Families relieved as loved ones receive COVID-19 vaccine

Family members say getting their loved ones vaccinated has given them a "peace of mind," as London continues its mass vaccination efforts and opens up to more eligible groups.

As more people get their shot, health experts share tips to keep in mind before your appointment

Mary Warburton's granddaughter Amanda Demasson, wiped away tears as she walked her 92-year-old grandmother out of Agriplex after getting the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday. (Sara Jabakhanji/CBC)

As London continues its mass vaccination efforts, family members say getting their loved ones innoculated against COVID-19 has given them "peace of mind."

As of Thursday, the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) had administered more than 46,000 vaccinations at the Western Fair's Agriplex vaccination site. 

In a social media post, the LHSC said along with the Middlesex-London Health unit (MLHU), it is delivering approximately 1,200 doses each day. 

The vaccine is currently being offered to people in the region aged 75 and older.

Mary Warburton, 92, of Lucan, Ont., got the vaccine on Thursday, after a long lonesome year.

"I've been isolated since last March. I don't go anywhere and this is one of the rare moments of being outside," she said.

Warburton was accompanied by her granddaughter, Amanda Demasson, who she said has been pushing for her to get her shot as soon as she possibly could.

"I wouldn't have been here today if it hadn't been for her," said Warburton. "I would've said, 'Oh, I won't bother' ... but I'm glad now that I came."

Warburton's granddaughter wiped away tears as she walked her grandmother out of the Agriplex.

"[It] definitely gives me peace of mind to know she's that much safer," Demasson said. "It's important. She's 92 and she's been through so much in her life ... She shouldn't have to be afraid of this."

Emanuel Rebelo brought his sister to London's Agriplex COVID-19 vaccination site on Thursday, a day after he got his shot at the very same site. (Sara Jabakhanji/CBC)

Emanuel Rebelo picked up his sister at the Agriplex Thursday, a day after he received his first shot at the same site. 

Rebelo turned 80 this year. He's the first in his family to get the shot and has been pushing his wife and relatives to do the same. 

"I had the intention of doing it as soon as [vaccines] came out," he said. "I'm not only saving myself but I'm saving someone else's life."

What to know before your vaccine appointment

Abe Oudshoorn, an assistant professor of nursing at Western University and nurse vaccinator during the weekends, shared tips via Twitter for people to keep in mind before going to their vaccine appointment.

"I've been thinking a lot about what I wish folks knew in advance or had been thinking about in advance, as we think about vaccinating a lot of people in a short period of time," Oudshoorn said. "These are just things that I've been reflecting on that would help people's appointments go as smoothly as possible."

While working seven days a week can be challenging, Oudshoorn said taking on this extra job over the weekend has been rewarding for him.

"It makes for a long week, but it's a great chance to do some really optimistic work, hopeful work and see people who are just, you know, thrilled to see me too," he said.

Here are five tips shared by Oudshoorn:

  1. Arrive at your appointment time or a few minutes early. Avoid getting there too early or late to prevent long lineups from forming.
  2. Fill out the consent form required in advance by printing it at home to save time.
  3. Understand the difference between medication reactions, allergies and major anaphylactic allergies.
  4. Talk to your primary health-care provider about any concerns prior to your appointment.
  5. Don't hesitate to ask your vaccinator any questions. 

Laura Mennen, a vaccinator at the Agriplex, said taking part in this work has allowed her to create a safe and comfortable experience for those who come in.

"I am happy to be a part of it and help and understand their needs and make them feel comfortable." 

She said seeing the children of those getting vaccinated and how emotional they get for their parents is a rewarding aspect of the job.

Dave Remy, director of client care with Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Network, said while it is important to know what to do before your appointment, it is also important to keep some things in mind after.

"It's important to continue to follow the public health guidelines after you're vaccinated. The plan is get the community vaccinated and herd immunity going, so it might be some time before these restrictions lift, but this is a step in the right direction."

"Following those guidelines is key."

The London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) administered more than 46,000 vaccinations at the Western Fair's Agriplex vaccination site as of Thursday.  (Sara Jabakhanji/CBC)