‘I couldn’t stop smiling’: Edmonton nurse shares COVID-19 vaccine experience

An Edmonton critical care nurse says a difficult year is ending with a positive moment — getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Lisa Vallee got her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Friday morning.

“I was so excited. I couldn’t stop smiling,” she said. “I’m just looking at this whole thing like, ‘Wow. It’s really happening.’”

Vallee joins a few thousand ICU doctors and nurses, respiratory therapists and long-term care workers across Alberta who will get the first doses of the vaccine.

Click to play video 'Health-care worker receives first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Alberta' Health-care worker receives first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Alberta

Health-care worker receives first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Alberta

“We were kind of spread out in line [waiting to get immunized], but the general mood was pretty happy,” she said.

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Read more: ‘Want our lives back’: What motivates people to get a coronavirus vaccine?

The past two months have been especially exhausting for health-care workers, as COVID-19 cases surge across the province. She said she’s attended to a COVID positive patient every day for the past two months.

“I started crying on my drive home, because it’s just been [so difficult],” she said. “Seeing how much suffering COVID-19 has caused…this moment is a turning point.”

Read more: Research finds stress, anxiety climbing for healthcare workers during COVID-19 pandemic

Dr. Lorne Tyrrell works on the federal COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force and said vaccinations will be a pivotal moment in the fight against COVID-19, if enough of the population gets immunized.

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“There are two reasons you take a vaccine. To protect yourself and to build herd immunity,” Tyrell said. “If enough people have antibodies to the virus, it can’t be maintained in the population and it will disappear.”

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Coronavirus: WHO official says next few months ‘are going to be tough’ despite vaccine approval

Vallee, like others who have gotten the shot, is not immune yet. She still needs her second dose of the virus and must continue to take precautions at work and home throughout the entire rollout.

“But, it is nice to have in the back of your head that this is a step in the right direction,” Vallee said. “Maybe someday I won’t be seeing a COVID positive patient every single day.”

Read more: COVID-19 vaccine here, but Moderna shot and health guidelines still needed: SHA

“After the first dose you get some protection, but it’s low-level antibodies. After the second injection, people have high enough antibodies to give them protection,” Tyrrell said.

More vaccines are on the way in the months to come. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Friday that Canada is set to receive 500,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of January, with 125,000 doses of the vaccine arriving every week.

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It’s not known how many vaccines in the latest shipment Alberta will receive. A spokesperson with Alberta Health said it is working closely with the federal government on vaccine procurement.

Read more: ‘Good riddance’ to 2020: Trudeau urges COVID-19 vigilance over the holidays

Vallee hopes Albertans will come together to protect each other.

“The repercussions of spreading COVID is so, so much worse than the sore arm you’re going to have. It’s the right thing to do.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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