Personal support worker becomes first person in Ontario to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Anita Quidangen, who works at long-term care home Rekai Centre, received a shot of the Pfizer vaccine around noon

Anita Quidangen is the first person in Ontario to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Toronto-based personal support worker at long-term care home Rekai Centre at Sherbourne Place was injected this morning with the Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine shortly before noon.

She was one of five long-term care workers to receive the two-shot vaccine in Toronto today.

According to University Health Network (UHN), the vaccinations took place at the Michener Institute for Education, which has been set up as the pilot site for long-term care home workers to receive doses in Toronto.

The vaccine arrived earlier than expected, allowing Ontario to begin immunizing long-term care workers as part of the pilot stage of a three-phase vaccine rollout plan on Monday instead of Tuesday as initially planned.

“Today is a historic day for Ontario and for Canada,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement, acknowledging Quidangen’s contributions to the community during the pandemic.

“She has worked tirelessly to care for some of our most vulnerable, both throughout this pandemic and since her first days as a PSW in 1988,” Ford said in a statement. “Anita has spent years rolling up her sleeves to protect our province, and today, she didn’t hesitate to find a new way to do so.”

UHN president Dr. Kevin Smith described Quidangen’s injection as “the ‘shot’ heard around the world,” on Twitter.

She joined Rekai since 1988 and has worked throughout the pandemic, Smith said in a statement.

“These past nine months have been challenging in so many ways, but no more so than for healthcare workers across the continuum of care,” he added. “We remember the 13,500 Canadians who lost their lives to this ravaging virus.”

Smith described Quidangen as the first person in Canada to receive the vaccine, but a long-term care home resident in Quebec had received a shot a few minutes earlier.

UHN will receive 3,000 doses and the Ottawa Hospital will receive 3,000 doses as part of the pilot stage. The province is reserving the second shots for the first round of recipients for 21 days. Immunization takes effect seven days after the second shot.

Once the initial 1,500 health-care workers are vaccinated, both hospitals will write reports to be used when stage one of the plan begins.

Ontario expects to receive around 90,000 more vaccine shots before the end of the year. The shipments will go to 14 sites across the province in areas that are in lockdown and red zones of the COVID-19 response framework.

“This is good news,” says Trudeau

On Sunday night, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared an image on social media of the first batch of doses arriving in Hamilton by plane.

The federal government is delivering initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine to 14 distribution sites across the country on a per capita basis.

“This is good news,” Trudeau tweeted on Sunday night.

“But our fight against COVID-19 is not over,” he also wrote, reminding Canadians to download the COVID alert app. “Now more than ever, let’s keep up our vigilance.

Ontario reported 1,940 new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the province’s total of active cases to 16,586.

The province also tightened restrictions in several areas in a bid to contain the second wave, which is continuing to grow.

York Region and Windsor-Essex are now in lockdown, and Middlesex-London, Simcoe-Muskoka and Dufferin-Wellington-Guelph moved into the red zone.

During a press conference at city hall on Monday, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa said 70 per cent of the population must be vaccinated before life will start to feel like normal again.

Ontario expects to receive 2.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in phase one of the plan. The second stage will begin in April and expand eligibility. It’s expected that Ontarians that want to get vaccinated will be able to receive doses in six-to-nine months.


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