With two deep breaths, Nisha Yunis became part of history Tuesday as one of the first health-care workers in B.C. to be immunized with a COVID-19 vaccine.
The 64-year-old, who has been a residential care aide with Vancouver Coastal Health for 41 years, received the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 15 – met with a round of applause by a small group of socially-distant health officials.
“I am so grateful. It feels like a dream came true. It is both a privilege and an honour to receive the first COVID-19 vaccine in British Columbia,” Yunus said in a statement.
“I have seen first-hand what COVID-19 does to families, and I am hopeful we are getting closer to finally reaching the end of this pandemic, so people can reunite safely with their loved ones and put this behind us.”
Also immunized Tuesday was Linda Latour, a health-care assistant in Fraser Health. The pair of frontline workers are two of roughly 4,000 in B.C. who will soon be rolling up their sleeves to receive the first approved COVID-19 vaccine.
“This vaccine and the others that will be available in the weeks ahead will save lives, protect those who are most vulnerable and reduce the disruption that we have experienced in communities everywhere,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a statement.
“We are not yet through the storm, but brighter days are indeed on the horizon.”
Health Minister Adrian Dix said as vaccines become more available, they will be provided to other priority groups throughout the province.
Health-care workers within care homes and acute wards – particularly those helping treat COVID-19 patients – are at the top of the priority list for vaccines. Next in line are those living in long-term care homes and facilities, and other elderly people within B.C. communities and First Nation reserves.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that Canada had reached an agreement with Moderna to provide its vaccine, but has yet to be approved by Health Canada. In the coming days, 30,000 Canadians are set to receive the vaccine.
B.C.’s immunization plan is being led by Dr. Ross Brown, Vancouver Coastal Health’s vice-president. A registration and record system are in development, including a process to register for vaccine access and so people can receive a formal record of immunization.
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