PSW who lost her father to COVID-19 is first in Windsor to receive vaccine as local rollout begins
The very first COVID-19 vaccines in Windsor-Essex are being administered Tuesday
The first person to receive the coronavirus vaccine from health officials in Windsor-Essex is a personal support worker who lost her father to COVID-19.
Krystal Meloche, who works at Seasons Belle River retirement home, said she knows her father George would be proud of her today.
"I know what he went through and the heartache that we're all going through," she said.
"And I know that right now that he is with me."
Meloche is one of about 2,000 people in the region expected to be vaccinated from the first batch of Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine. A limited supply arrived in Windsor on Monday.
"Being in the field that I am, and working with the most vulnerable sector out there, I have to protect myself, my family, and my residents," Meloche said.
Five people were nominated to become the region's first recipients of the vaccine. They included two nurses, a doctor, the owner of a seniors' home as well as a retirement residence manager.
Per provincial guidelines, workers at long-term care homes that are currently not suffering COVID-19 outbreaks will be first to receive the shot.
As additional supply of the vaccine — and potentially other vaccines — becomes available, groups of people will receive the vaccine according to priority.
In addition to staff, residents and caregivers at retirement homes and other congregate living settings have been identified as the top priority, followed by health-care workers, adults in Indigenous communities and those who receive regular home health-care.
Windsor Regional Hospital, which is overseeing the distribution at St. Clair College Sportsplex, said the product was being stored in freezers at –80 C.
"Clearly, this is an exciting day for Windsor-Essex," said hospital CEO David Musyj.
He said it was a "monumental task" to get to this point.
Despite the arrival of the vaccine, the next few months will be the most difficult of the pandemic, Musyj said.
"It's so important that together as a community we come together, celebrate the day, but we're clearly not out of the woods," he said.
Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, said that for non-priority groups, the vaccine may start to be available by early spring.
"We can see some light at the end of the tunnel, but again, the tunnel is very long," he said Monday. "We still have to be patient with all these vaccines that are coming in."
The vaccine's arrival comes as the second wave of the virus rages in Windsor-Essex.
The region has recorded a cumulative total of more than 6,000 cases, and there are more than 30 active outbreaks, many in long-term care homes.
On Monday, health officials said four more residents have died due to COVID-19, and 213 new cases of the virus have been diagnosed.
The deaths mark a grim pandemic milestone for the region, bringing the number of people who have lost their lives to the illness over 100.
With files from Katerina Georgieva