'You've got to get the shot': N.B. pharmacist recovering from COVID-19 credits vaccines for keeping him out of hospital

Ten days ago, Sussex, N.B. pharmacist Kevin Duplisea was snowshoeing with his dog. Today, he has a hard time catching his breath walking around his home.

“I had ongoing fevers, night sweats through the night that I had to get up and change my clothes, change the bedding, like sopping wet night sweats. There were fever dreams, or sort of the delirium that goes with a fever. Around day three, day four, I lost my sense of taste, my sense of smell,” he said in a virtual interview from his home.

Duplisea is in his 40s, does CrossFit and has spent the last year vaccinating hundreds in his community. At times, he’s taken the vaccine to them, giving the shot while they are in their vehicle or in their home, with approval.

But last week, he tested positive for the virus with a rapid screening test, and had the symptoms to prove it.

“I’m so happy that I had three vaccines, because I don’t know what would have happened. I’m certain I would have ended up in the hospital,” he said.

Duplisea said he had an immunity response after each dose of vaccine, and believes it’s what kept him out of the hospital.

Dr. Mark MacMillan, with the province’s medical society, says using the term “mild” when describing Omicron isn’t necessarily correct – because the variant is still putting people in hospital. He sees it first-hand.

“There are some people in hospital, yes, who have been fully vaccinated and who even had their booster, but those patients are not requiring intensive ICU care. They’re more requiring supportive care that can be done on a regular hospital bed floor. So while we do, again, recognized vaccines are not perfect, they are our best defence,” he said.

As of Tuesday, 192 people have died from the virus in the province.

“We do have deaths from COVID-19,” said Dr. MacMillan. “This does continue to happen. Hopefully not on a daily basis but the numbers at this point are too high. And regardless, any death of anyone is unacceptable when we have a vaccine that can help prevent that.”

Duplisea is technically out of isolation, but is still at home with lingering symptoms.

He had just written a column on how to treat COVID-19 symptoms while recovering at home. Days later, he had to use his own advice.

He says fluids are key and so is rest.

“I think all of us here in New Brunswick are at the point where we wonder if all of these restrictions are necessary or not, or can we just go on with our lives?” he said. “They are necessary. I mean, if you’re not vaccinated, you, in my opinion, have a really big risk. You’ve got to get that shot.”