COVID-19 vaccine arrives for Headwaters Hospital staff

January 14, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Greater protection against COVID-19 is coming to Headwaters Health Care Centre (HHCC), since they started sending their staff to Brampton for vaccinations against COVID-19 last Friday.

“The Province has prioritized early doses to those that are most vulnerable. Frontline healthcare workers may be exposed to COVID regularly due to the nature of their work,” noted Danny Williamson, spokesperson for Wellington–Duffering–Guelph (WDG) Public Health.

Rachel Kalas, Registered Nurse at HHCC’s Emergency Department was among the first of the hospitals staff to receive her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

She has been part of the frontline response to the pandemic since its onset; caring for patients and families as well as supporting colleagues.

Kalas received the Pfizer vaccine on Jan. 8 at the Brampton Civic Hospital, which is providing the vaccine to HHCC staff and physicians.

“This is an emotional moment for me. It has been such a journey navigating this pandemic; from my home life to work life and everything in between. I feel like this vaccine is a symbol of hope that we won’t have to balance the weight of the pandemic as much anymore,” she explained.

While the focus remains on long term care and retirement homes for rolling out the vaccine, high-risk healthcare providers are offered spaces where availability permits, said the HHCC in a press release.

By Jan. 25, WDG Public Health will have nearly 7,000 Pfizer vaccines and 7,400 from Moderna. To date, nearly 1,000 healthcare workers in the region have received their first dose of the vaccine. 

In clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine, which Kalas received, has been proven to be 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19, beginning one week after the second dose is administered.

Headwaters has endured 70 inpatient cases of COVID-19 and 42 among staff since the pandemic started last March.

COVID-19 cases are expected to increase in the coming weeks as transmission of the virus continues to accelerate within the Province.

“I am extremely grateful to our community partners for creating opportunities to protect our staff and physicians against COVID-19. The arrival of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in our region is encouraging and I am hopeful with the current public health restrictions in place, along with continued adherence to public health guidelines, we will soon start to see the results we are all hoping for and working hard to achieve.” said Kim Delahunt, President & CEO of HHCC.

Meanwhile, staff at Shelburne’s Long Term Care Home will soon achieve immunity to the novel coronavirus, since receiving their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine last Wednesday (Jan. 6).

Sarah Ricci, who works at the long term care home was the very first person within the WDG Public Health region to receive the vaccine when it was rolled out by Guelph Public Health.

In light of the tragic outbreak at Shelburne Long Term Care that claimed 15 lives in May of 2020, Ricci told the Citizen she’s grateful and relieved to receive the vaccine and know she’s building up immunity against the virus.

“We were hit pretty hard,” said Ricci of the outbreak.

“We’re here to protect the residents and the staff as well, and we’re here for the health and well being of everyone,” she added, when speaking about why she chose to be included in the early round of vaccinations.

Staff from Shelburne Long Term Care have been driving down to Guelph over the last week to receive the shot.

So far, over 15 staff members have been inoculated. While it isn’t mandatory for nursing home staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, they’re being encouraged.

Ricci says she’s scheduled to get her second dose of the vaccine back at Guelph Public Health on Jan. 27 and immunity starts after seven days or more from when the second dose is distributed.

At the start of the week, a total of 350,000 COVID-19 vaccines were administered across Canada.

When reflecting back on 2020 and the support received from the community during the outbreak in the Shelburne Long Term Care Home, Ricci says it was “overwhelming.”

“We just wanted to thank everybody for being there for us and now we’re going to be there for everybody else, and get our vaccinations to keep everyone safe,” she remarked.

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