Hanna lab technician first to receive Pfizer COVID vaccine in Central Zone

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Premier Jason Kenney announced on Tuesday, December 22 a second shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine had been received by the province, and 10 communities, including Drumheller, would each receive 975 doses.

Health Canada approved the Pfizer vaccine, for people 16 years of age and older, on Wednesday December 9; two weeks later, on December 23, the first dose was administered in the Central Health Zone, which includes the Town of Drumheller.

Michelle Viste, a laboratory and x-ray technician at the Hanna Health Centre, and the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for the zone told the Mail, “I was very surprised to be the first, but I am honoured.”

Viste is unsure how she was selected to receive the vaccine. She received a phone call the evening before the provincial announcement was made, and a follow-up on Tuesday to grant consent to photos and interviews.

Although she has some mixed feelings at being the first, Viste says, “I guess someone has to be first, and someone has to be last.” She adds having the vaccine available so quickly in rural areas “was a surprise” and hopes other frontline healthcare employees will also receive the vaccination soon.

As with other vaccinations, the COVID-19 vaccine will rely on herd immunity, or a majority of people to be vaccinated, in order to be fully effective.

Whether to receive the vaccine will be a “personal choice,” and Viste encourages people, “Get the vaccine for all the people (who) couldn’t.”

Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail