COVID-19 vaccine begins rolling out on P.E.I.

The long-awaited vaccine for COVID-19 was administered for the first time on Prince Edward Island today, with cameras invited in to record the historic step in fighting the coronavirus that has swept across the planet.

3 people delivering care at long-term homes were first in line for needles

Personal support worker Johanne Lamesse receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Ottawa Hospital on Tuesday. Quebec and Ontario residents were the first in the country to be vaccinated this week. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Three people were the first on Prince Edward Island to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at a midday event at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown. 

All three — a resident care worker, a physician and a nurse — work in private long-term care in the Charlottetown area.   

They bared their arms at about 12:30 p.m. AT to kick off P.E.I.'s vaccination operation, which will deliver 1,950 initial doses in its first stage.  

Each person vaccinated will have to have a second dose 21 days later to make the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine fully effective. 

"This is a very exciting day for the province, signalling for us a hope and a light [in] what has proven to be a very long tunnel," Dr. Heather Morrison said Tuesday as she confirmed the vaccines had arrived. 

"If all goes well, we will have more people vaccinated tomorrow than have tested positive [on P.E.I.]," said P.E.I. Premier Dennis King, who was also at Tuesday's briefing.

P.E.I. is abiding by national guidelines about who should receive the shots first, Morrison noted. 

The focus of the first doses on the Island will be "nursing home or long-term care staff who provide direct patient care and health-care workers involved in the COVID-19 response," Morrison said.

The first box of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in Charlottetown as it was being opened and checked on Tuesday. (Ken Linton/CBC)

"This includes but is not limited to respiratory therapists, testing clinic staff, immunizers, cough and fever clinic staff, emergency room staff and of course long-term care private and public front-line staff."

Morrison said interest in getting the vaccine is high among this target group, citing "a real desire among staff to protect themselves and the vulnerable population they are looking after."

This vaccine is not recommended for administration to anyone aged 16 or younger, pregnant or breastfeeding women, people who are immunocompromised, or anyone who has experienced an anaphylactic reaction to a vaccine in the past.

P.E.I. has confirmed 89 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began more than nine months ago. There have been no deaths and no hospitalizations in the province. 

The Island has been able to hit the ground running just one week after Canada approved use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, in part due to a timely gesture by the owner of a North Lake tuna processing company. 

Jason Tompkins of One Tuna is lending the province two lab-approved freezers that can reach –87 C, usually used to store tuna.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has to be kept under –60 C until it is being prepared for immediate use.

More from CBC P.E.I. 



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