Why this disease expert left her Christmas tree up for 11 months

·2 min read
Dr. Lisa Barrett with her Christmas tree, which she finally took down on Wednesday night after 11 months. Barrett was waiting to take down her tree until 75 per cent of Canadians were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (Lisa Barrett - image credit)
Dr. Lisa Barrett with her Christmas tree, which she finally took down on Wednesday night after 11 months. Barrett was waiting to take down her tree until 75 per cent of Canadians were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (Lisa Barrett - image credit)

As many people are thinking about digging out their artificial Christmas trees for the holiday season, one Nova Scotian medical expert has just taken hers down.

Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist and a member of Nova Scotia's vaccine expert panel, has had her cheerful artificial tree up since last December.

She vowed to only take it down once Canada hit 75 per cent of the population as fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — a milestone she believes happened on Tuesday according to online data.

"It's nice to see that we're making progress as we go along in this continuing pandemic," Barrett told CBC's Information Morning on Thursday, after taking down her tree Wednesday night.

"That's worth noting."

Originally, Barrett thought she might be able to take the tree down by August — but said with a laugh that might have been a little too optimistic.

While it's been unusual to have the tree up so long, Barrett said it was nice to have some warm Christmas tree light for the fall "as the evenings close in."

She also said it's been psychologically important for her to take the time to mark achievements like this, since things tend to blend together after nearly two years of the pandemic.

She said although there has been a lot of news coverage about the small vocal minority of people who are against getting the COVID-19 vaccine, it's good to remember and celebrate the "vast number" of those who felt vaccination was the right choice for them and their communities.

"These vaccines have been given to a lot of folks, and they're doing a really amazing job at preventing death and hospitalization," Barrett said.

Since Barrett said she usually waits until just before Christmas to put up her tree, she has a few more weeks before the colourful conifer is set up in her home once again.

This time, Barrett said she's not sure what goal she will set for the 2022 tree to come down. It might be waiting until children under 12 hit that 75 per cent vaccinated number, or it might not be vaccine-related at all.

She said it might relate to public health measures like masking, or how social gatherings are managed in the coming year, since they will likely last into next summer.

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