(COURTESY KAHNAWAKE 911)
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After this week’s announcement of a more strict four-week lockdown starting tomorrow in the province, but not Kahnawake, a bit of good news is needed. And there is no greater news than the fact that our most vulnerable are one step closer to being COVID-19 immune.
Lisa Westaway, the executive director of the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre (KMHC), said that on Wednesday, all residents from the KMHC In-patient Care Unit and the Turtle Bay Elders’ Lodge had received the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
“It was so exciting. The spirits were so high,” said Westaway. “We are not allowed in the in-patient (unit) since the beginning of the pandemic, but through some small windows, you could see some of the residents in their wheelchairs in the hallway all smiling and people clapping,” she said.
Five residents refused the vaccine, according to Westway.
She said that most of the staff in the inpatient unit have also been inoculated and that once the second dose is administered to residents, the whole of KMHC will breathe a sigh of relief.
As an added bonus, KMHC unexpectedly received two extra vials of the vaccine and acted quickly to administer it to 11 full-time paramedics from the Kahnawake Fire Brigade (KFB).
Because, as Westaway explained, once a vial is opened, it must be used within six hours.
“We were also able to vaccinate some employees from inpatient that had not gone yet,” said Westaway.
In total, 105 vaccines were administered on Wednesday.
On Monday, Westway said that Quebec’s decision to delay the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine to prioritize the first dose would not impact its effectiveness, according to the information she has been provided with thus far.
“We are expecting a lot of doses to be delivered between now and February 1. So, we are expecting to vaccinate almost all health and social services employees by sometime in February,” she said.
Westaway also said that she received news from Indigenous Service Canada about an agreement with the minister of health, confirming that Indigenous communities would be prioritized, contrary to the speculations that stated they would focus only on remote areas. Next week, residents of the Independent Living Centre (ILC) will receive the vaccine.
But even with all this positive news, Westaway pleaded to the community to continue following health and security guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus.
“Please stay home. We need people to stop moving for two to three weeks right now. It will be our saviour,” said Westaway.