Canada kicked off its inoculation campaign against COVID-19 on Monday by injecting health workers and elderly nursing homes, becoming only the third nation in the world to administer the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine. The first dose broadcast on live television went to Anita Quidangen. The personal support worker at the Rekai Center, a nonprofit nursing home in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, said she is “excited” to be first in line.
Health workers in masks and white coats applauded after she was injected. “It’s a great relief. Clearly, it may just be the beginning of the end, but we still feel there will be an end to this pandemic,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, explaining that he would not press for his shot immediately. .
“We obviously need to give priority to the most vulnerable but the second I have a chance – like all healthy adults – I will do this very visibly and with enthusiasm,” he told French-language broadcaster Radio Canada. A second wave of the coronavirus is tearing across Canada, forcing several provinces to once again strain companies and limit social gatherings. Canada has so far reported 460,743 cases, most in Ontario – the most populous province – and Quebec.
“It’s really good news for Canada. It’s really good news for Quebec,” said federal health minister Patty Hajdu outside the Maeria Geriatric Center in Montreal, which also began immunizing patients Monday. About 150 residents will receive shots at Maimonides on Monday, and 50,000 people will be vaccinated in Quebec by Jan. 4, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said.
More than 60% of Canada’s 13,431 pandemic deaths in total were in nursing homes, less than 80% in the first wave. On Friday, Canada’s federal health authorities called on provinces to impose more restrictions.
The United States also began inoculations on Monday after Britain launched its national effort last week. The vaccine developed by German biotechnology company BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc is given in two doses, three weeks apart. Canada expects to receive 30,000 doses this week and 249,000 in total by the end of the year.
“It’s an act of loving getting vaccinated,” resident Rabbi Ronnie Cahana said, speaking via Zoom, before receiving the shot. Cahana, who is quadriplegic, said he is very happy to hear that the vaccine is coming. “I danced up and down the halls, and I can’t even walk.” His daughter, Kitra Cahana, who recently returned to Montreal from her home in the United States so she can attend if her father becomes ill with COVID-19, said she hopes the vaccine will put an end to her family’s constant concern for his safety. .
“I think it’s hard to imagine the level of fear and worry that surrounds these homes,” she said. A resident of Maimonides, Beverly Spanier, said she hopes being inoculated will restore some freedoms lost during the pandemic.
“I’d like to see grandchildren able to visit grandparents again,” Spanier said. (Additional reporting by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot)