It’s ‘V-Day’: First Canadians get COVID-19 vaccine

Story by CBC Kids News • 2020-12-14 17:37

89-year-old from Quebec makes history

Happy "V-Day," everybody!

No, we aren’t talking about Valentine’s Day, we’re talking about the beginning of a nationwide vaccination campaign to protect Canadians against the coronavirus.

“V-Day” is what the person in charge of leading Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, retired general Rick Hillier, called Dec. 14, after watching the first Canadians roll up their sleeves to get vaccinated. 

“This is an incredible day,” he said, as Quebec nursing home resident Gisèle Lévesque became the first Canadian to get a shot as part of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

It’s not quite the light at the end of the tunnel, Hillier said, but it’s as though somebody has lit a match to “help us see our way out of the abyss and the darkness.”

The first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved by Health Canada, which was made by Pfizer-BioNTech, will be delivered to 14 sites across the country in the coming days and given to high-risk people first.

They include health-care workers and people who live in long-term care homes.

The first Canadian

Gisèle Lévesque smiled after getting her shot at a long-term care home in Quebec City on Dec. 14. (Image credit: National Capital Integrated University Centre of Health and Social Services/The Canadian Press)

While a number of Canadians volunteered to get the shot during the testing stages, Lévesque was the first to get vaccinated with the approved vaccine.

The 89-year-old, who lives in a long-term care home in Quebec City called CHSLD Saint-Antoine, was given a round of applause after she got her shot.

Quebec, then Ontario

In Ontario, a personal support worker in Toronto named Anita Quidangen was the first in that province to be vaccinated on Monday.

Tamara Dus, left, gave Ontario’s first COVID-19 vaccine to Anita Quidangen, right, shortly after 12 p.m. ET on Dec. 14. (Image credit: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Quidangen, who has been a personal support worker for more than 30 years, often did double shifts during the pandemic to care for residents.

“Anita has spent years rolling up her sleeves to protect our province, and today, she didn't hesitate to find a new way to do so,” Ford said.

First on the planet

The first person in the world to get a COVID-19 vaccine was 90-year-old Margaret Keenan.

Staff at University Hospital in Coventry, England, cheered after Margaret Keenan, 90, became the first person on the planet to get a shot against COVID-19. (Image credit: Jacob King/The Associated Press)

Keenan got the shot on Dec. 8, just a few days before her 91st birthday.

“It's the best early birthday present I could wish for,” she said at the time, “because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the new year after being on my own for most of the year."

What’s next?

Canada is expected to receive 249,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine before the end of December.

Because every person requires two shots of this particular vaccine before they become immune to the coronavirus, that’s enough to cover only 125,000 Canadians.

More shipments are expected to arrive in Canada in 2021.

Because of transportation challenges, the first round of vaccines won’t be available in Canada’s northern territories.

The shots also won’t be available for kids under the age of 16 until more testing is done.

More answers to your questions

Shortly after "V-Day," CBC Kids News contributor Isabelle MacNeil did an interview with a COVID-19 researcher that answers these questions:

Click here to read the article and watch her video.


With files from CBC News, The Associated Press

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