Julie Nykiforuk knew it could happen, but she says she was surprised when it happened to her.
When Nykiforuk woke up with a sore throat on May 9, she thought she was just run down. She had been working long hours at Midtown Pharmacy in Davidson, Sask., immunizing others against COVID-19.
“Honestly, I thought I just had a cold because I had been vaccinated,” said Nykiforuk, 51, who had her first dose on March 30.
Given her symptoms, she went to go get tested later that morning anyway. And then she spent the rest of the day and the one after that back in bed. On May 11, she got her result: positive.
“The symptoms were just getting worse and worse,” she said. “I really did feel horrible. I don’t think I’ve ever been that sick from a cold or flu in my life.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t a little bit scared.”
She isn’t sure where she contracted the virus, but she thinks being partially immunized against it is what kept her out of the hospital. She noted a healthy colleague around the same age was diagnosed with COVID before getting a first shot and ended up an in-patient.
“I do think it made a difference,” Nykiforuk said. “I’m grateful I had it, that I didn’t get any worse.
“Based on what I know and went through, get your vaccine. We know that the vaccines prevent hospitalizations and they prevent death.”
Although still feeling fatigued, she’s deemed recovered and back at work doling out doses.
“It means we’ll get back to normal sooner,” she said.
Officials in Saskatchewan and across Canada have been pushing a first-dose strategy, trying to get as many people as possible at least partially immunized.
As the pandemic’s crippling third wave washed over provinces’ health-care systems earlier in the spring, they said this approach would reduce relieve some of the mounting pressure.
Saskatchewan had administered 642,431 first doses as of Monday.
Across the province, 263 people at least partially immunized for three weeks more had contracted COVID-19, according to the Ministry of Health, which only provided data up until May 8.
Of those people, 20 ended up hospitalized, the ministry said in a statement.
“The majority of these hospitalized cases were elderly and had one or more comorbidities,” the statement said.
“Vaccines provide a high degree of protection from COVID-19 infection; however, no vaccine is 100 per cent effective, and we do expect to see a small number of COVID-19 cases among vaccinated individuals.”
Nationally, early data is showing about 0.15 per cent of people have become infected two weeks or more after receiving their first dose.