'The eagle has landed': Barrie long-term-care worker receives region's first COVID-19 vaccine

·2 min read

The first person to receive a COVID-19 vaccine shot in Simcoe-Muskoka volunteered to protect the vulnerable seniors in her care.

“This is my way of fighting for them. They are the most vulnerable and this is my way to help protect them,” said Lori Black, a personal support worker at Barrie’s Victoria Village retirement home.

Black received the historic dose from Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit nurse Deanna Thompson on Dec. 22 at Simcoe County’s first immunization clinic on Sperling Drive in Barrie.

Black told reporters she was “excited and honoured” to be the first person in the region to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

While those who question the vaccine’s safety are “entitled to their opinion,” she said she was satisfied after doing her own research.

“It seemed very safe," she said. "There may be reactions, but I’m willing to take that chance for my residents who I care for each and every day.”

Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre CEO Janice Skot said doses of the Pfizer vaccine are kept in large freezers at a secret location because this version of the vaccine must be stored at extremely cold temperatures.

“The eagle has landed, the vaccine is in our city and we are ready to deliver that vaccine beginning today,” she said. “We see the arrival of the vaccine as providing the light at the end of a very long tunnel.”

Front-line workers from long-term-care facilities in Simcoe-Muskoka will receive the first shots by appointment at the Barrie immunization clinic.

Medical officer of health Dr. Charles Gardner said, as the immunization campaign continues over the next several months, people will receive shots through family physicians and at clinics using the Moderna vaccine, which is more easily transported.

“Seeing this happen is moving. I find it moving,” he said of the first vaccination. “It makes it tangible for people. It really gets across the message that it's beginning. This is the beginning of the solution. We are in this together and we are going to get out of this together.”

Gardner said trials show the vaccine is more than 90 per cent effective.

Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance