PSW reflects on being the first person in Windsor to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot one year ago

·3 min read
Krystal Meloche, a personal support worker from Seasons Retirement Home in Belle River, was the first person to receive the vaccine at the St. Clair College Sportsplex in 2020. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC - image credit)
Krystal Meloche, a personal support worker from Seasons Retirement Home in Belle River, was the first person to receive the vaccine at the St. Clair College Sportsplex in 2020. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC - image credit)

Reflecting on this day last year, Krystal Meloche recalls how "overwhelming" it all was.

At the time, Meloche, who worked at Seasons Belle River retirement home, was the first person in Windsor to receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The shot came after Meloche's father died from COVID-19. After being on the frontlines of the pandemic for months and seeing the impact it had on her family, she said it was "such an honour" to be considered for the shot.

Meloche was one of 2,000 people in the region at the time expected to be vaccinated with the first supply of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, which had arrived on Dec. 21, 2020.

And while Meloche remembers the joy of that moment, she said what followed was a lot of "negativity" from some people who judged her decision to get vaccinated.

"I just hope that next year can bring us a little bit more hope to move into a normal life again." - Krystal Meloche

"I did this for my reasons, not for anybody's else's," she said. "No one lived what I went through, no one lived what my family went through so when I chose this opportunity and was offered this and said 'yes,' I did this mainly for my dad."

She recalled how COVID-19 affected every person in her home except for herself in May 2020.

"It got to the point that I had my father in hospital [on] life support, I had a sister who was younger than me who was right behind him, she was just as sick and at one point it was a matter of we didn't know what was going to happen to either ... it was very scary," she said.

LISTEN: Meloche talks about the impact COVID-19 on her family

Meloche said her sister is doing a lot better, but is still dealing with lasting health conditions because of COVID-19, such as asthma.

Though lots has changed since last December, Meloche said the surge of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron has made her realize that this will likely be around for quite some time.

"We have come far, but it feels like the past few weeks that we have kind of taken a step back," she said. "It's not really going away."

Windsor Regional Hospital chief of staff Dr. Wassim Saad said while it can feel as though we're back in the same spot, "we are in a much better place now, than we were previously."

He described the first vaccine administration as "momentous" and noted that it "ushered in a new way to fight this pandemic."

Jennifer La Grassa/CBC
Jennifer La Grassa/CBC

But he said that the last year has also been hard on the healthcare system and workers.

"We're strained. Everyone that works in the hospital, works in healthcare has been pushed to the limits throughout the entire year," he said, adding that people should be "mindful" of that.

Now, Meloche works in the home care setting and is going back to school to be a nurse. She told CBC News that in 2022, she hopes that the pandemic gets "more under control."

"I would like to see people be able to go out and not be scared of saying hi to another person or not wanting to socialize because we're not allowed to," she said.

"I just hope that next year can bring us a little bit more hope to move into a normal life again."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting