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Coronavirus: vaccinations begin Wednesday in London, underway in Windsor

A photo shared on Dec. 22, 2020 shows a shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in London, Ont. via @LHSCCanada/Twitter

While 2020 has been a tumultuous and unprecedented year dominated by a worldwide pandemic, it will end with a burst of hope in southern Ontario as vaccination programs officially get underway.

London Health Sciences Centre says the first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines arrived on Monday and the first vaccine will be administered on Wednesday.

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“The vaccine will be distributed throughout the region, including our more rural parts of Middlesex and London like Middlesex County, as well as the counties to our north and to our south,” Middlesex-London Health Unit associate medical officer of health Dr. Alex Summers said Monday.

However, Summers stressed that vaccines “will be a scarce resource for us here locally for the first little while.”

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LHSC chief medical officer Dr. Adam Dukelow echoed Summers’ sentiments.

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“Although the vaccine is providing renewed optimism, masking and physical distancing continue to be our best tool to contain the pandemic. And we ask for the community’s help, just like Dr. Summers did, so that together we are in the best possible position to care for those who need it.”

As announced Friday, the first shipment of vaccines will go to health-care workers in local long-term care and retirement homes, as well as some hospital staff.

PSW Krystal Meloche was the first. via Windsor Regional Hospital

Windsor Regional Hospital began its vaccination program in Windsor and Essex County on Tuesday morning.

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Krystal Meloche, a personal support worker at retirement home Seasons Belle River, was the first to receive the vaccine at the St. Clair College Sportsplex.

COVID-19 has greatly impacted Meloche both professionally and personally. Her father died of COVID-19 and other family members have contracted the coronavirus and “continue to try to cope with its long-term effects,” according to Windsor Regional Hospital.

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“It may not take away what COVID-19 has taken from my family but I’m very honoured to be among the first people in Windsor-Essex to experience this vaccine,” she said.

“People need to open their eyes and take extra precautions. People think it’s just the flu … I can tell you, for my family, it’s not. People need to take this seriously.”

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Secretary of Health Alex Azar receive COVID-19 vaccine' Coronavirus: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Secretary of Health Alex Azar receive COVID-19 vaccine
Coronavirus: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Secretary of Health Alex Azar receive COVID-19 vaccine – Dec 22, 2020

Tuesday’s vaccinations in Windsor also included a registered practical nurse at Amica Riverside who contracted COVID-19 in April, and a registered nurse and doctor who both care for residents of Heron Terrace.

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Three administrators also volunteered “to help alleviate any anxiety among staff,” Windsor Regional Hospital said: Cardinal Place owner Mike Cardinal, Seacliff Manor Retirement Residence general manager Kari Sleiman and Heron Terrace administrator Amy Sworik.

Windsor Regional Hospital says vaccinations “based on this limited supply” will continue “over the next several days” and it is not yet known when the next shipment will arrive.

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