'Exhilarating': Saanich care home residents get COVID-19 vaccines
VICTORIA -- All 220 residents of Veterans Memorial Lodge care home in Saanich were offered vaccines Tuesday, including Murray Edwards, who said he didn’t feel a thing when he got the shot.
“It was a step in the right direction," said Edwards. "The main thing is to have a safeguard."
Edwards celebrated his 101st birthday three days earlier.
“As Walter Cronkite used to say, 'It was a day like any other, and you were there,'” he said with a grin.
By noon, 130 of the care home residents had received their first shot of the Moderna vaccine, with most of the other 90 residents getting theirs in the afternoon.
It was welcome news for staff who are tasked with keeping residents safe.
“We had an outbreak last month and fortunately it was very small, but it’s a tremendous relief for everyone,” said staff member Brenda Hannah, who called the day “exhilarating.”
Island Health chief medical health officer Dr. Richard Stanwick said the health authority’s goal is to have offered all residents of long-term care and assisted-living facilities on Vancouver Island a Moderna vaccine by the middle of next week.
“We really hope that by mid-week next week all of those populations will be done," said Stanwick. "That is what we’re aspiring to."
Most staff at the facilities will also have been offered the shots by then said Stanwick, noting that the timeline for administering those doses is less certain because appointments have to be arranged off site.
“Staff are being treated separately,” he said. “They are being asked to come in and receive the Pfizer product.”
The Pfizer vaccine, which is stored at extreme cold, is less mobile.
On Tuesday the federal government confirmed that Pfizer’s delay in supplying its vaccine is worse than expected. No doses will be provided in Canada next week.
That news will impact the whole country, including all parts of B.C. in the short term, according to B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.
“Moderna will certainly become our workhouse vaccine for first doses,” said Dix, noting that the Pfizer doses will be prioritized as second doses for those who had a first shot of it 35 days ago.
The reduced supply is said to be temporary, with extra doses promised from Pfizer in February and March.
Still, the change is disappointing for some, especially hospital staff, says Stanwick.
“That is an additional three-week delay for people, in addition to what they were expecting,” he said.
Island Health says despite the delays with Pfizer, the overall goal continues to be for everyone who wants a shot to have one by September of this year.