New Brunswick has begun vaccinating health-care workers and long-term care residents against the coronavirus in Miramichi.
“We’re really quite excited, people are pumped up, they’re believing it’s a historic day for the Miramichi,” said CEO of Horizon Health Karen McGrath.
New Brunswick’s first allotment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 came in 1,950 doses — all of which will be given out this weekend.
McGrath says about 150 health-care staff will work 12-hours a day on Saturday and Sunday, in what she calls a “fantastic effort.”
Eighty-four-year-old Pauline Gauvin, a resident of Shannex Losier Hall, was the first to receive the vaccine on Saturday.
“It was an honour,” she said Saturday morning.
“This is something I won’t forget.”
Gauvin said she didn’t feel much and felt comfortable when she received the injection.
Others on the list to get the first vaccinations include:
- Nicolette Noel, a registered nurse at the Miramichi Regional Hospital ICU
- Dr. Carl Boucher, a family and ER physician at l’Hôpital de l’Enfant-Jésus in Caraquet
- Joel LeFort, a paramedic from Moncton
- Mandy Whalen, an extra-mural program nurse from Dieppe
Dr. Boucher said every health worker’s nightmare is getting infected with COVID-19 and bringing the virus into their communities. With the vaccine, he says these fears will now start to go away for him.
“That’s one thing you can be sure that once you’re vaccinated it’s going to help,” Boucher said.
“We have a duty as health-care workers to show the way, and actually promote that we believe in science, we believe in this vaccine and there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Miramichi was chosen because “it is central to the north and to the south of New Brunswick,” McGrath said in the Saturday briefing.
“If you are a health-care provider and you work in an ICU or an ER, or a COVID unit, you are coming from every hospital in the province today.”
New Brunswick looking ahead to its upcoming COVID-19 vaccine batches
Another reason Miramichi was chosen was the location of the freezer. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be kept at -70 C, according to Pfizer.
New Brunswick has accepted an offer from a bluefin tuna exporting company in eastern P.E.I. to loan two freezers to store the vaccine.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said the provider of the vaccine is recommending the vaccine not be moved to different sites. But, this could change within the next three months.
With the Pfizer vaccine, common side effects are pain at the injection site, fatigue and muscle aches and pains. Russell said some may experience a fever too.
Coronavirus: New Brunswick begins ‘historic’ COVID-19 vaccination process
The federal government also announced on Tuesday that it has secured 168,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine that should arrive before the end of December.
However, that is contingent on approval from Health Canada.
Coronavirus: Canada to receive 125,000 Pfizer vaccines per week starting in January
Russell said Saturday that surveys in New Brunswick show about 75 per cent of residents are “keen to get the vaccine.”
The province said half, or 1,950, of the 3,900 doses arriving next week will be held until the weekend of Jan. 9, 2021 to serve as the second dose of the vaccine for those receiving the vaccine this weekend.
The other half will be used to administer two doses to an additional 975 people in New Brunswick.
“This is just the very first step, it’s a drop in the bucket, but it’s getting the ball rolling,” Russell said.
— With files from Alexander Quon
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