Margaret Beldessi of Lake Cowichan stands outside the Cowichan Community Centre after getting her first COVID-19 vaccination shot on Tuesday, March 16. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Margaret Beldessi of Lake Cowichan stands outside the Cowichan Community Centre after getting her first COVID-19 vaccination shot on Tuesday, March 16. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

COVID-19 vaccine clinic opens at Cowichan Community Centre

Seniors express relief after getting first shots

“Relief!”

That was the unrehearsed but synchronized reply from Barbara Whitefoot and Shirley Hackett on Tuesday afternoon when asked how they felt after getting the COVID-19 vaccine at the Cowichan Community Centre.

The two women, both from Chemainus, were among many Valley residents who signed up to get their inoculations at the clinic that opened on Monday.

As pleased as they were to get their first shots, they both said they hadn’t been particularly concerned about getting COVID-19 in the first place.

“I don’t worry,” the 86-year-old Hackett stated confidently, while the 85-year-old Whitefoot noted that she is getting ready to have a medical operation, and wanted to make sure she didn’t get sick before then.

As soon as phone lines were open, Whitefoot called to make her vaccination appointment, and didn’t experience the issues getting through that some B.C. seniors have dealt with.

“I had no trouble at all,” she said. “The person that took my call was very nice.”

Hackett’s daughter called later that same day and just happened to get her in at the same time as Whitefoot, which allowed the friends to carpool.

Both women will have to wait four months for their second shots and say they don’t plan to change their behaviour just because they’ve had their first jab.

Also getting her vaccination on Tuesday was 93-year-old Margaret Beldessi of Lake Cowichan, who admitted she had been worried about COVID-19 for the last 12 months, and was also relieved to get the shot.

The whole vaccination process has been a positive experience, she said, although she did have some trouble with the phone lines when they first opened.

“I tried for two or three days,” she said. “But once they put some more people on there, I got through.”

Like Whitefoot and Hackett, Beldessi won’t be doing anything differently just because she’s had her first shot.

“I’m going to carry on,” she said. “It’s been a year now. I’m not going to give up until everybody gets it.”

As of Wednesday, March 17, seniors ages 82 and up can call 1-833-348-4787 to book vaccination appointments. By the end of this week, all seniors ages 80 and up will be eligible to call in. Callers will need to provide their legal first and last name, date of birth, postal code, care card number and phone number for themselves or a support person.

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