The first person to get vaccinated in the province was critical care physician Dr. Jeffrey Betcher of Regina.
Betcher joins Global’s Daniella Ponticelli to talk about the experience.
The following are his answers in a Q&A format.
Q- What did it mean to you at that moment? And what does that mean to you now?
A- It really marked the beginning of the end of what’s been a very long year for all of us. New year was marked by everyone wanting to put 2020 behind us and look ahead with optimism in 2021 knowing we have the vaccine. It’s not the end yet, but it’s the beginning of the end and hopefully, we can get this under control and put it behind us as we did with polio, smallpox and those sorts of diseases that we have immunizations for.
Q- I’m assuming that friends and family perhaps patients have asked you some questions about the vaccine. What do you get asked about the most?
A- The most I get asked about is if I had any reaction to it or how did I feel after I got it. I have to say I haven’t had any significant reactions to speak of. Some people have had limited reactions to it, but I myself can’t say that I have. I think we have to be confident about the science supporting the vaccine and should be going ahead with it.
Q- We’re seeing a high number of people being treated for COVID-19 in Saskatchewan hospitals, including the intensive care unit. What is it like working and being in that environment?
A- It’s a bit of a pressure cooker, so to speak. We’re anticipating that there is going to be an increase, surge and it puts a strain on all of our resources. We have a disproportionate number of patients in the intensive care unit that have COVID and this is a disease unlike your typical patient admitted to the ICU who spends a few days in the ICU. Patients with COVID spend weeks in the ICU and then have a prolonged recovery phase after that.
Q- As the general public gets ready for a new year and the vaccine rollout, what should people keep in mind as we move forward?
A- Get the vaccine as fast as you can. I think there is no reason not to, but also not to let up your guard. Knowing the vaccine is here, we still need to carry on with the precautions that we’re doing. Doing things like social distancing, limiting contact to those around us. We certainly haven’t backed off of anything we are doing in the hospitals as far as those practices. We need to keep this up even through this vaccination period.
Betcher had an appointment at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday for his second dose of the vaccine.
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