In a quiet Nelson gymnasium, Linda Taylor sat alone and took in her surroundings.
The 83 year old had just received her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and felt reflective. Only a year ago, as B.C. entered its lockdown, Taylor wasn’t sure when the pandemic would end. A vaccine in a year seemed unlikely.
Yet here she was Wednesday, with a Band-Aid on her left arm and plans for a second dose in four months.
“It’s so hard to believe it’s happened in one year,” said Taylor. “When you’ve lived as long as I have you think back to some of the other things that have happened in the world and it’s amazing that they are doing this in one year.”
Approximately 150 people per day have received vaccines at Selkirk College’s Mary Hall gymnasium in Nelson since it opened this month, according to prevention service assistant Benje Moricz.
The Ministry of Health announced Wednesday that 582,634 doses of vaccines had been administered in B.C. while also opening appointment bookings to people as young as 76, and to Indigenous peoples over the age of 55.
Moricz said the clinic, which runs daily 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., previously administered the Moderna vaccine before Interior Health started sending the Pfizer doses instead.
No one appeared to be picky about which they were getting Wednesday.
Gloria Currie, 86, said she was relieved to receive the vaccine but downplayed its immediate impact until she had both doses.
She still allowed herself to look ahead to the days when she can revive her social life. Concerts, movies and garden shows were the things she longed to visit once more. “All that stuff, that’s what I miss,” said Currie.
Vicki Hanneson was among the few people at the clinic receiving the vaccine who wasn’t a senior. Hanneson is a dental assistant, which makes her an essential service worker. Although she was happy to be vaccinated, COVID-19 precautions in her workplace meant she never felt unsafe.
“I think the first couple days I went back to work, which was the beginning of June, I started to feel a lot more comfortable with the way things are being handled, especially in our area.”
On the other side of the needle was nurse Shannon Perger. It was her 25th birthday, and she could have taken the day off. Instead, Perger volunteered to take a shift in the gym.
Some visitors have received the vaccine as if it were a mundane chore to complete. But for others, Perger said, the visit to the clinic has been an emotional experience.
“We’ve had many people in tears as they receive their vaccine,” said Perger. “For some it’s their first time getting out of their house so it’s like a celebratory day. Some people sit in the chair and they really open up to you. They let you know they’ve had family members who passed away because of COVID. It’s a special moment to be a part of that.”
There will be more special moments to come.
Rose Friedich was among the people vaccinated in Nelson on Wednesday. She spent 2020 isolated from her children and unable to fill her days with the volunteer work she cherishes.
But after being vaccinated, she glanced out the gymnasium window where flurries were ruining an early spring morning and still managed to feel some hope for days ahead.
“When the sun is shining,” she said, “one feels better.”
To register for an appointment at the clinic, call Interior Health at 1-877-740-7747 any time between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Selkirk’s Mary Hall building parking lot can be accessed by turning off Elwyn Street onto Fell Street in Fairview. Visitors are asked to arrive on time for their appointment.
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