Trust us. We know what is best for us.

After successfully avoiding mentioning the “C” word last week, I have some news to share regarding Covid.

A few days ago, I received an email asking me if I was ok with giving my contact information to Ottawa Public Health to be put on the list to get the vaccine. My response was yes.

At first, I was hesitant about it for a few moments. If you’re a regular reader of this column, you’ll know that I’ve had doubts about the vaccines for several reasons. Most of those reasons had to do with my specific disability and the fact that I use a ventilator 24/7 to breathe.

In the past few weeks, I just happened to have prescheduled appointments with my Neurologist and Respirologist. I used both appointments as an opportunity to ask important questions about how getting the vaccine could affect me in regards to my disability.

They weren’t able to answer all of my questions. Not many people have had access to the vaccine yet, especially people with disabilities that use a ventilator around the clock and who are active in the community. There aren’t many like me in Ottawa, as well as in Canada.

It becomes a judgement call on my part. The one thing that my doctors agreed upon was that the pros outweigh the cons as far as me getting the vaccine.

For me, I plan on getting it because first of all, if I were to get Covid or the variant, I more than likely wouldn’t survive, or at the very least, it would have a significant impact on my health overall.

As a general rule, I do my best to be healthy, both physically and mentally.

As for my other reasons, I miss my friends, my actual friends. If I want to have any hopes of seeing my friends again and being social and active also, I need to get the vaccine. While yes, I still have concerns about the vaccine, the pros outweigh the cons. At least in my case.

Ultimately, it’s my decision. I’ve done as much research as I can, including having conversations with my long-time physicians.

Shortly after I responded to the email, I made a post about it on Social Media. While some of the comments were positive, many were skeptical about the email I received. Many thought it might’ve been a scam or not an official email. Sadly, I spent far too much time having to explain that the email came from one of the care agencies that I deal with on a daily basis.

While I do appreciate the concern, I think it leads to a more significant issue. The issue is that I’m a person with a disability, and because of that, some people assume that I’m less informed and, therefore, I’m unable to make my own decisions.

I could sit here and list all of the examples of why that’s not true. Instead, I’m just going to keep living my life, 46 years strong.

Before I end this week’s column, I need to mention someone noteworthy.

Last week, the PWD community lost a true trailblazer.

Justin Clark was born with Cerebral Palsy. At the age of two, doctors told his parents to put him in a group home, which was just over an hour outside of Ottawa.

His parents decided to place him in the Rideau Regional Centre, which was located in Smiths Falls. Due to this, Justin was isolated from his family.

In 1982, he successfully won the right to move away from the group home and to be able to make his own decisions moving forward. This was and still is a truly historical moment for the disability rights movement in Canada.

In the following years, Justin went on to have a very happy and successful life. He touched the lives of many people, including myself. I had the honour of knowing Justin through school, as well as seeing him in my travels around town.

He was an incredible person and someone that I looked up to. We also had some good conversations when we’d see each other.

You will be missed, my friend. Thank you for paving the way for people with disabilities.

We still have a long way to go, but we shall keep rolling.

Photo:Hakan German, Pixabay