Fernie’s first round of COVID-19 vaccinations was issued to the residents and care aids of Rocky Mountain Village (RMV), with all 200 doses of the initial roll out having been administered by Jan 12.
“The first roll out in B.C. was targeted towards long term care residents and all staff that work in long term care,” said Dr. Tara Chalmers-Nixon, chair of the Elk Valley Hospital’s Medical Staff Association, adding that RMV is the only long term care facility in Fernie.
“All of the residents and staff eligible for vaccination that want it will have received their vaccination.”
In addition to the residents and staff at RMV, health care workers that come in and out of the facility have also received the vaccination.
“(Long term care residents) are the most vulnerable to dying of this infection,” said Chalmers-Nixon.
“Now if we’ve got vaccinations in there and vaccinated staff in there, then those people will be able to enjoy – hopefully as their family members get vaccinated – a little bit more social visitings so that their quality of life improves.”
According to Chalmers-Nixon, those who have received the vaccine have been fairing well, having only reported sore arms for the day or two following vaccination, and mild flu like symptoms such as muscle aches or fatigue.
“Side effects are being collected and thus far there have been no serious adverse events resulting in any hospitalizations out of the hundreds of thousands of doses administered in Canada… These side effects are actually a sign that your immune system is mounting a response to the vaccine and are expected.”
Chalmers-Nixon added that the initial immune response takes roughly two weeks following the first dose, with the second dose being administered three or four weeks later depending on which vaccine is used.
“The only safe way to herd immunity from this virus is by vaccination – the vaccine is safe, effective, and will hopefully be available to everyone.”
The next shipment of vaccines is expected to arrive in the Elk Valley shortly – though an exact date is yet to be determined – and will be administered to all those who work in acute care.
It is still unknown if the second round will include front line workers such as paramedics, police, fire fighters, and search and rescue.
According to Chalmers-Nixon, they are expecting mostly Moderna vaccines as they are more transportable, however the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are similar messenger RNA vaccines with similar effectiveness and side effect profiles.
“We are really not out of the woods yet due to the large numbers of infections in our country, and hospitalizations,” added Chalmers-Nixon.
“B.C. is doing better given recent restriction measures, but we have to stay the course, avoiding social gatherings especially inside where the virus spreads easily.”