By Darren Lum
Standing outside the Haliburton Highlands Health Services vaccination hub located at the Pinesetone Resort and Conference Centre in Haliburton on Thursday, March 18, Kelly Lawr was readying herself to join the line of frontline workers and receive the first of two COVID-19 doses.
The married mother of three said she was doing it to keep her family safe and that although she was a little hesitant because of the vaccine’s short history, she knew it was part of a process to return to a life before the pandemic.
“We have to start somewhere, right? I’m going to do what I can to keep myself and my family safe or whoever. It’s everybody,” she said.
Health Canada provides a comprehensive breakdown on vaccine safety, concerns and possible side effects on its website at www.canada.ca. It outlines the measures for safety and provides a list of the common vaccine side effects, which can include mild fever, flu-like symptoms such as chills, fatigue, joint pain, headache and muscle aches, and redness, soreness or swelling at the site of where the vaccine was given. It also includes specific information related to vaccination for COVID-19 such as the ingredients in each of the three COVID-19 vaccines.
Lawr, who is an on-call Canada Post worker, was able to get her first of two vaccination doses on the second of two days of vaccinations at the Pinestone because her boss told her, as a frontline worker, she was eligible.
“I figured, you know what? Let’s do it,” she said.
It’s not known when she will receive her second dose, but Kelly believes this first dose will lead back to life before the pandemic.
“I want to see my family. I want to sit down and have a nice get together, whether it be a bonfire or a dinner or something when we can get back together,” she said, referring to loved ones and extended family outside her household.
Off to Kelly’s side, her father Philip Lawr had just received his dose.
“I wanted to get it for the same reasons: family and everything else. But you always hear about the horror stories, you know? The reactions, you know. Is there going to be something happen,” he said. “I work at the Foodland in Haliburton. I see people come in everyday and there are so many deniers. It’s just the cold. It’s just this and that. You hear of all these people dying and I know it’s more so I have to protect myself and I have to protect my family so, yes.”
Coincidentally, he was part of this group to get their vaccination because he was hired at the Haliburton Foodland at the end of July last year to help temporarily with the implementation of the COVID-19 protocols, such as counting customers coming in and sanitizing high-touch surfaces. It was thought he would only be needed until Christmas.
“If it hadn’t been for COVID, I wouldn’t be employed and vaccinated,” he said.
He adds his elderly parents live down the road and he’s only talked to them online.
“This is just a start. It can only get better from here,” he said.
Philip was one of 34 Haliburton Foodland employees that received the vaccine, which is about 65 per cent of all staff at the store.
Owner of Todd’s Independent Grocer Steven Todd confirmed a social media post about his communication to organizers of the clinic to include grocery staff with the other front line workers, but it had little influence, as things were in place, he said.
“They had already a plan in place. They did an amazing job in getting it together in a couple days. We got probably 20 staff done … and hopefully they have another one in the near future and we can get the rest of them,” he said.
Todd, who points out he reached out with his pharmacist’s connection knowing long-term care residents and staff and vulnerable residents had received the vaccination already, said this is about a quarter of his staff. He adds his staff will see upwards of 12,000 people in a week during the summer.
“The more chance they can keep us safe the less it’s going to spread throughout our stores and the community,” he said.