Five people in healthcare are sharing how their experiences led them to make a decision on the COVID-19 vaccine.
Healthcare workers in the prairies are sharing why they are or are not choosing to be fully vaccinated. As of one week ago, 70 per cent of all eligible healthcare workers in Manitoba such as those working in acute care facilities, laboratory testing, and emergency response services have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Two chaplains, Joan Crabtree and Danielle Morton, say they are seeing firsthand the effects of the pandemic, noticing how lonely people are.
"It has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride," Crabtree says, calling the pandemic a "flurry of changes." Crabtree, who works as a lead chaplain with Misericordia Health Centre, says despite gearing up in PPE, people are still welcoming company.
"I have felt very honoured and blessed to minister to people in their needs. There has certainly been a lot of increase in needs, a lot of fear, and anxiety. The unknown has caused a lot of uncertainty, and I guess that uncertainty has caused a lot of unsettling reactions."
Crabtree says familiar prayers such as the Lord's Prayer have been in higher demand.
She says they are working to give them "a piece of peace." Part of that peace, for her, comes from the vaccine.
Crabtree was one of the first group of Manitobans to receive their vaccine and has since received her second dose.
"It is something that I felt was very important both for the responsibility I have to people in our care here, to keep myself healthy so I am not passing it on to them and for myself and my family, my loved ones. I did not want to be putting them in danger either."
Crabtree is recommending others to get the vaccine, saying there was no question about getting the vaccine.
"It is a leap of faith in something I trust. I believe God is in the process of science and medicine and would be working through it. I think it is a bigger leap of faith to walk into a room where I know somebody has COVID and be relying on PPE."
She says the vaccine is a strong layer of protection.
Morton received her vaccine on Easter weekend, calling it "a physical piece of hope". She is a student chaplain at Misericordia Health Centre since November and now St. Boniface Hospital. She says staff have been incredible for the past year as they navigate the pandemic.
"I really kind of smiled when I realized I would be getting my first shot on Easter weekend. It feels like we have been in Lent for a year and the resurrection of Jesus, I think, tastes a little bit sweeter this year."
Morton says the vaccine feels like a "deep breath" for her. She says while her daily life will not be changing much, she is feeling peace. Morton is hoping to hug her 90-year-old grandmother soon, who will soon be getting her vaccine.
The chaplain says people are missing their families and hopes to see them reunited soon.
A worker involved in testing in the province but asked to remain anonymous as they are not allowed to speak publicly says they received the vaccine and is encouraging others to do the same.
"If you are using good lab technique the risk is very low, but you also don't want to be the one to infect your group and accidents can happen," they say. "The vaccine is an amazing thing and a huge accomplishment."
They say they got the vaccine as soon as they were eligible.
"The vaccine itself went very smoothly for me. I only had a sore arm for both shots. There were quite a few with fever, body aches, etc. But nothing as severe as if everyone got COVID."
They are cautioning against taking advice from health care workers who are uncertain about the vaccine, saying healthcare workers can be subject to misinformation too.
"My pandemic experience is probably summed up as disappointment. The governments have been pretty bad (pc worse than liberal), the public has largely stuck with confirmation bias for their uninformed opinions and even health care workers have difficulty understanding statistics and research," they say.
A worker with Saskatchewan Health Authority who asked to stay anonymous says they got the vaccine but did not want to.
"I felt very pressured into getting it and a lot of my coworkers felt this way," they say.
They are not getting a second dose.
Bryce Bastiaanssen is a unit clerk at the Victoria General Hospital and a post-secondary student.
"My work experience during the pandemic is unique as a full-time student but it’s definitely been stressful. The health region has seen large staffing shortages over the pandemic as some healthcare providers got sick. I’ve definitely been called to come in on my days off a lot more this year than the last couple of years," Bastiaanssen says.
He feels the region was unprepared for a pandemic.
"I got the vaccine because vaccines are a safe, quick and effective way to achieve herd immunity."
Before getting the COVID-19 vaccine, he says there was "always a feeling of uncertainty" and was worried about bringing the virus home to his family.
"God bless the researchers that helped make this vaccine because the amount of research that has gone into this one vaccine is absolutely remarkable! Being able to produce a safe vaccine in just over a year is a miracle," he says.