Sask. teacher would like to see staff, students get vaccine sooner rather than later

·3 min read

Paul Gullacher is still suffering the effects of contracting COVID-19.

Gullacher and his family contracted the virus last spring and his father died from it in April.

"For a man in his late 30s and relatively peak respiratory health prior to infection, I do not feel the same way now," Gullacher told The Morning Edition's Stefani Langenegger.

"I get short of breath still relatively easily. I still struggle getting up flights of stairs. But when I'm looking at the support groups for the long haul COVID suffers, there's folks out there suffering a great deal more impairments after infections than I."

Gullacher is a teacher at Regina's Campbell Collegiate. He said it has been great getting back to school.

"We miss being face-to-face with our students," he said. "At the same time, I think we have to recognize that when you pack 30 students into an enclosed space for several hours at a time, masks or not, what you're doing is you're mandating a superspreading event that interconnects families throughout our communities."

So at this point I would have no immunity. I don't imagine I would be able to be as resilient to another infection. - Paul Gullacher

Gullacher would like to see staff and students, especially at the elementary school level, get the vaccine soon.

"I don't think they are going to be able to follow the protocols quite as closely as our high school students. And they're also not very well able to cope independently with online learning like our older students are," he said.

"Operating classrooms without vaccination is only going to be sustainable for so long before a number of tragedies begin to arise."

Gullacher has young children of his own and said getting them back in school will help him be able to work at full capacity.

"Getting elementary schools up and running is, I think, paramount."

Despite having had COVID already, Gullacher said he may still be susceptible to getting it a second time.

In June he participated in an antibody study for antibody therapy. His first sample for the study was rejected because he had insufficient antibody counts in his bloodstream.

"So at this point I would have no immunity," said Gullacher, who teaches science. "I don't imagine I would be able to be as resilient to another infection."

He wants people to realize this isn't a disease that only affects the very old or those already ill, and that getting infected by the virus isn't as good as a vaccination.

Gullacher said with COVID-19 within months you can develop breathing and cognitive impairments.

"One of the scariest symptoms of COVID-19 is the fact that it crosses the blood brain barrier. The loss of taste and smell on its surface might not seem like that severe symptom," he said. "But in this case, we have no idea what these long term complications might be."

He said it is vital to do the basics like wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands and having good ventilation when you are indoors.

"We walk around outside right now and you can see your breath in the air," he said. "When you're indoors, that breath is still there, even though you can't see it. Those water droplets are still there and they begin to accumulate in these enclosed spaces."

Listen to Stefani Langanegger's full interview of Gullacher: