Vancouver Island seniors, First Nations and homeless excited for COVID-19 vaccine

Vancouver Island seniors, First Nations and homeless excited for COVID-19 vaccine
Seniors, First Nations and homeless across B.C. are set to be some of the first to get the COVID-19 vaccine and many are excited on Vancouver Island.

On Wednesday, B.C. announced the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were arriving in the next week.

“The first thing on my list is to give my kids a hug,” said 85-year-old Cherish Community Living resident Maxine Valsdon.

The first to receive the vaccine are healthcare and long-term care workers who are helping COVID-19 patients.

After that, in December and January, long-term care residents will be next on the list, followed by seniors, those living in shelters and indigenous communities.

Valsdon and the 200 others in her building are very excited and say it has been a tough year.

“The hardest part has been not being able to see my family,” she said. “Not being able to be with them, not being able to give them huge, not getting hugs”

“We have a large older population in the city, a vulnerable population,” said Cherish co-owner and resident Micky Fleming.

“Here with my team, I have 200 people, and we have been vigilant, it has changed their lives immeasurably, the vaccine will allow them to live again.”

Fleming and her staff have all been taking extra precautions throughout the pandemic, and have avoided a case of COVID-19 in their building.

The virus has hit many Indigenous populations especially hard.

They say it’s a huge relief knowing a vaccine is on the way as many communities have been experiencing lockdowns.

The Klahoose First Nation on Cortez Island lifted theirs on Monday after four cases hit.

“Almost put tears in my eyes knowing it’s coming,” said Elected Chief Kevin Peacey.

“It’s going to be a relief for us on this remote Island, especially if there is an emergency. It’s so nice to have all of our members go back to work and go back to the office.”

For workers familiar with how the virus has affected the vulnerable populations on Vancouver Island, the news of a vaccine is bringing hope.

“I think it will definitely be a game-changer,” said Dr. Anne Nguyen with Island Health’s COVID Inner-City Response.

“[If] they get the illness they could get [it worse]. So many people who experience homelessness also have risk factors like chronic lung disease, cancers of various kinds, heart disease and vascular disease.”

But the vaccine won’t change things overnight, so many still are cautious.

“Keep your distance, keep your masks, and wait a while, don’t rush out,” added Valsdon.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!