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Ontario personal support worker is the first Canadian vaccinated against COVID-19

Anita Quidangen, a frontline health care worker at a Toronto long term care facility, received Canada's fist dose of the much-awaited vaccine.
By: Madeleine Hall
December 14, 2020
Photo: Frank Gunn (The Canadian Press)
Photo: Frank Gunn (The Canadian Press)

Canada's first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine touched down over the weekend, and the first doses were administered Monday morning at a Toronto hospital. Among the first recipients was Anita Quidangen, a personal support worker at Toronto's Rekai Centre. Quidangen was given the historic shot by fellow frontline worker Tamara Dus, a Registered Nurse and Director of Safety Services at University Health Network.

Quidangen has been a personal support worker since 1988, and frequently worked double shifts during the pandemic to care for senior residents. The Canadian medical community was quick to celebrate the fact that a frontline health care worker was the first to be immunized.

"I'm proud to live in a nation where a frontline PSW is the 1st person to get the #CovidVaccine," palliative care physician Dr. Naheed Dosani wrote on Twitter. "In this historic moment, Anita Quidangen represents the service & sacrifice so many frontline workers made during this pandemic. She represents hope & humanity for us all."

"How awesome is that the first #CovidVaccine in Ontario goes to Anita Quidangen, a PSW working in the frontlines including doing double shifts during a #COVID19 outbreak at the nursing home?" wrote family physician Dr. Jennifer Kwan.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford also joined the chorus of praise: "Anita has spent years rolling up her sleeves to protect our province, and today, she didn't hesitate to find a new way to do so," he said in a statement.

Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam had more good news to share on Monday: another 249,000 doses of the vaccine are scheduled to arrive this month, which is ahead of the predicted schedule. "This is the best news we have heard for some time," she wrote on Twitter.

Dr. Tam went on to issue a warning to Canadians about the ongoing threat the virus poses: "Knowing access to safe & effective vaccines for all Cdns [sic] is within sight can lead some to think #COVID19 is no longer a problem, but the virus is spreading fast in Canada and we must maintain public practices."

Sources: CBC, Twitter

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