As Quebec eases past the symbolic marker of one million people vaccinated, the goal is to have every Quebecer who wants the vaccine to have at least one dose by June 24, the provincial national holiday, Fete St. Jean.
It has become a little bit of a race against time as several variants of the original coronavirus are threatening to unleash a third wave of infections in this province.
Healthcare officials have already identified variants out of Britain, Brazil, South Africa and more recently, Nigeria.
The fear is that the emergence of an increasing number of these variants will spike the number of cases here in this province, which bore the brunt of the number of people afflicted and killed by COVID-19 so far in Canada.
As of March 23, there have been 303,707 confirmed cases and 10,618 people have died in Quebec since the start of the pandemic, so the race is on to achieve some form of herd immunity.
Unfortunately, while our community is among the marginalized groups that are at higher risk of contracting the virus, it’s also fertile grounds for the spread of misinformation about the virus and the vaccine.
As such, it has become increasingly important that the phenomenon identified as ‘vaccine hesitancy’ is brought to the open and seen for what it is.
Many in our community have come to recognize the importance and urgency in getting that potential life-saving jab as a way to protect themselves, their families and friends as well as a way out of one of the darkest periods known to man.
A cross section of those who have already received the needle have agreed to share with us, the experience and their reasoning about getting the vaccine.
Marlene Jennings: “get the damn vaccination as soon as your are legally allowed!”
Marlene Jennings is Quebec’s first elected Black female member of Parliament who is now the president of the Quebec Community Group Network and who recently served for two years as trustee of the English Montreal School Board.
On March 5, 2021 I had my first vaccination at the Montreal General Hospital. I had decided I would be vaccinated as soon as these vaccines were available for my age group and that is because I actually trust science!
My daughter and I are both asthmatics and I am a breast cancer survivor so we have been pretty much trapped in our home since the pandemic began.
When a visit to a hospital for blood tests, various diagnostic tests has become an exciting highlight of my day, believe me, there was absolutely no way in hell that I would refuse to be vaccinated!
All those who don’t wish to be vaccinated should ask themselves is their life more important than those of their family members, friends and their work colleagues?
Because some vaccination deniers may very well be infected but asymptomatic and thus infect others.
My advice is simple: get the damn vaccination as soon as your are legally allowed!
Howard Stretch Carr
Stretch is host of the popular CKUT 90.3 FM Saturday afternoon show, West Indian Rhythms. He has been a long time advocate of the vaccine and has no time for doubters. Today, he is even more convinced that the vaccine is the road back to where we were before with family, friends and community.
In the early days of the pandemic this question was posed to me over and over: “Hey Stretch will you be taking the covid vaccine”?
My answer to them: “why you ask? ”
And the so-called-specialist-never-finished-high-school- know-it-all will be flooding me with craziness that they read on Facebook and elsewhere on social media like how Bill Gates wants to get control of your body or that Dr. Fauci wants to make millions.
It certainly put a smile on my face because of the stupidity of their promoting such false information.
Being from a country where one was vaccinated for almost every thing such as polio, the bad flu, yellow fever, malaria, dengue etc., I had no hesitation in seeking ways to get my shot.
When I think about the situation there was no other alternative, if I want to see and hug my grandsons again.
After waiting for my age group to be called, I booked my appointment online and got my date, location and time. I subsequently received a reminder by the Internet and on my cell.
At the location everything went like a well-oiled machine, the staff was polite, spoke my language, and was extremely helpful.
Everything was wiped down and sanitized after each person.
I was in and out in 45 minutes including the 15 minutes wait time after receiving the shot.
I had my first vaccine 14 days ago, now, within 7 more days I can hug my grandsons, and of course with all of us masked up.
And there goes the other question: “why wear a mask if you are vaccinated?”
And me being the layman all I could answer is because I follow the scientist so go speak to your doctor or someone learned in the medical field.
For me, I have my brother a chemist, and he gets the brunt of my questions along with my doctor’s who all come back with the same answers that the vaccine is not a cure nor does it give you immunity but however it prevents death and acts as a shield as it builds up your body’s resistance to fight off the Covid-19.
Don’t be like the Tanzanian president John Magufuli, a coronavirus skeptic who told his citizens not to wear masks only to become a victim of Covid-19 himself.
Lastly I will tell you this after receiving my first shot it was a weight being lifted off my shoulders.
Remember wear your mask as you are not only protecting yourself, you are protecting others and therefore not being selfish.
Go get the vaccine shot so we can get the herd immunity going as it is the only way this thing will be controlled and we could get back to some sort of normalcy
Stay safe and walk good.
Christine Busby: “Looking forward to indulging in the simplest things that were taken for granted prior to the pandemic.”
Christine is a teacher/instructor in the healthcare system and the owner of a private eldercare home in Montreal. She is keenly aware of how important it is to be vaccinated as a way of salvaging the health and well being of her clients and by extension, her business.
At first I had reservations about taking the vaccine, but I prayed about it and spoke to my mother, she reassured me that God would not bring me this far to leave me, so I then put my faith forth.
Mother, little brother, and myself whom work with me in my residence as well as my clients all, received Pfizer vaccine on Feb 15, 2021.
We are all doing fine with no side effects other than a sore injection site for about two days.
I think it is very important to take the vaccine because this virus is extremely contagious and it does not discriminate.
I believe that by taking the vaccine we’re doing our part in saving lives by protecting ourselves and the ones we love, we also protect those in the community that for whatever reason, may not be able to take the vaccine.
By not taking the vaccine, we leave ourselves and loved ones vulnerable to this virus.
I encourage everyone to do his or her part, get vaccinated, wear your mask and continue to social distance, these measures will stop the spread.
I look forward to indulging in the simplest things that were taken for granted prior to the pandemic………such as hugging and kissing all of my nieces and nephews and just gathering together for family BBQ’s.
Gemma Raeburn Baynes: “I left the arena with a sense of gratitude and hope of beginning to turn the page on this pandemic…”
GEMMA is a former bank auditor and well-known event organizer. She is the founder of many of Montreal’s signature events and organizations including Taste of The Caribbean, Taste of Tea, Playmas Montreal and Montreal Ebony Models.
Having an underlying health condition obviously brought up additional concerns for me to take the Covid-19 vaccine, but I wanted to get the vaccine as I was considered to be high risk for complications should I contract Covid-19.
So based on the Heart Institute’s guidance who strongly encouraged me to get the vaccine, I decided to go on-line and book my appointment when my time came. I would encourage everyone to talk to their own healthcare providers about getting the vaccine, especially if they are high risk.
I am so excited not only for me to be protected but to protect my first grandson who is a newborn and whom I want to be able to hug and play with without fear.
So today, Wednesday, March 24, it is such a relief that my husband Bernard and I got our first dose and in three months’ time we should be fully vaccinated as another appointment was given to us immediately.
As requested, we arrived a half-hour early to our appointment. The process was fast. We got the Pfizer vaccine. I was willing to get anyone they would give me. I must admit that I am not a lover of needles, but this was very easy and took about 1 minute to administer; the same as getting a flu shot. We were monitored for 15 minutes before we were allowed to leave to make sure we had no adverse reaction.
A vaccination card was given to us showing that we received the first dose. This card will get updated when we get the second dose of the vaccine.
I will continue to follow Health Canada guidelines regarding what fully vaccinated people can do including visit with other fully vaccinated people.
It is also great to know that if fully vaccinated people do get Covid-19, it would be significantly less with no hospitalization or death expected.
I will however, continue to wear my mask and social distance. The good part of getting vaccinated is that fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing.
I left the arena with a sense of gratitude and hope of beginning to turn the page on this pandemic.
Alfred Jack Dear: A calculated decision
Alfred Jack Dear is the long serving president of the St. Vincent and The Grenadines Association of Montreal, who has spent decades helping Montrealers capture their special moments as a photographer and videographer.
I had to make a calculated decision when it came to receiving the vaccine. I took several factors into consideration including my age and my medical conditions and decided that the best option for me was to go get the vaccine as soon as it became available. It’s the best way to avoid serious complications from this virus including hospitalization and possible death.
My appointment was set for Tuesday, March 16 at the Glen (MUHC). Looking back, I am fully impressed as to how well-organized the entire process was.
When I arrived at the parking lot, there was a shuttle bus on hand to take my wife and I directly to the vaccination center and return us to the car after receiving the vaccine.
At the centre itself it took me less than 25 minutes to be vaccinated followed by the 15 minutes observation time. Just as impressive was the number of sanitizing stations in place.
I was treated in a professional and respectful manner by every worker.
I encourage everyone to get vaccinated and give yourself adequate protection against this virus.
Joyce Forte Armorer: “All I all, I am feeling great…”
Joyce is a retired bank employee who is now a full-time community volunteer. She serves on the board of directors of the Council of Black Aging Community of Montreal.
Fear finally gave way to optimism, so I decided to take the vaccination.
I arrived at the scheduled time of five minutes, which is mandatory.
Upon my arrival, I was immediately separated from my new
mask, which I had just put on before leaving home.
With hands sanitized, and new mask in place, I had a long walk to get to the first personnel. I was again asked to sanitize my hands
The first personnel took my medicare card and verified my name, address, and my appointment. I was also informed of the name of the vaccine, which was Pfizer, and was given the date of my second dosage.
Again, sanitizing my hands, I proceeded to the second personnel, who verified the info of the first personnel .
As usual, sanitizing the hands once more, the next personnel inquired if I had any allergies. I then proceeded to the nurse, who prepared my arm for the injection.
I was then asked to remain in a designated area for fifteen minutes.
It is now 15 days, and I believe it was the right decision mad on my part.
The only discomfort I encountered, was the very night, I felt heaviness on my arm.
All I all, I am feeling great.