‘Great way to be part of history’: Volunteers line-up to administer COVID-19 vaccine in Ottawa

OTTAWA — As frontline health care workers’ line-up to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, other medical professionals are volunteering to be the ones on the other end of the syringe administering the vaccine.

The Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus was home to history this week, with hundreds of health care workers receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Sheryl Hodgson is a general, internal medicine resident, at The Ottawa Hospital. She has worked through the pandemic, calling it “an interesting experience.”

“I think there is a lot of fear associated with this (COVID-19) and rightfully so,” says Hodgson. “We definitely see that in terms of people coming in later to the hospital, they’re sicker, there’s mental health issues… people don’t have the support networks they had.”

When Canada announced the COVID-19 vaccine would be available, hospitals put the call out for medical residents to help.

“I was in clinic yesterday and everyone is volunteering from nurses to security to attending physicians to porters to cleaners and they are all helping out,” says Hodgson. “I thought this is a great way to be part of history. This vaccine’s here, we’re able to administer and hopefully bring about the end of this pandemic that has really affected everyone’s lives.”

In Ottawa, frontline health care workers in long-term care homes will be the first to receive the vaccine.

“The mood at the vaccination centre is really nice.”

At the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital, where the vaccine is administered, Hodgson says some of the recipients are really excited and want to take a picture, while others are more hesitant, It is new, but they are willing to get the jab, in order to help protect the elderly they care for, the most vulnerable to the pandemic.

“It was really exciting to think that the time-course that we’ve had to develop this vaccine and get it into people’s arms and into their systems is quite short.”

The day Hodgson volunteered at the clinic more than 500 people received the COVID-19 vaccine. While it may seem like a small number looking at an entire population, each day, they will keep going and Hodgson plans to continue offering her time, whenever she can.

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