Healthcare workers to become “ambassadors” in COVID-19 vaccination campaign

At left, Nurse Hossein Mansouri sees his children through the window of his home in May, 2020. He moved into a hotel to protect them against COVID-19. On the right, Mr. Mansouri receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17, 2020.
At left, Nurse Hossein Mansouri sees his children through the window of his home in May, 2020. He moved into a hotel to protect them against COVID-19. On the right, Mr. Mansouri receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17, 2020.

Chance for all CIUSSS staff to start receiving vaccine by late March

Nurse Hossein Mansouri moved into a hotel during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic to avoid infecting his young children at home. In December, he took a step so he would never have to do that again: He got vaccinated against COVID-19.

Mr. Mansouri was among the first employees of our CIUSSS to receive the vaccine, a milestone event in the fight against the coronavirus.

“I am so honoured and thrilled to be among the first staff to get vaccinated. This is a victory of science, and I trust science,” says Mr. Mansouri, a Nurse Team Leader at Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre. The COVID-19 vaccine holds out the promise that he will never have to be separated from his wife and children again, he adds.

In the coming weeks and months, each CIUSSS employee can expect a call to schedule an appointment for a shot in the arm against COVID-19—followed by another shot at a later date. Our CIUSSS’s administration is strongly encouraging staff to get vaccinated, with the rollout expected to begin the week of Jan. 11 and be completed by the end of March.

Healthcare staff, who were at the forefront of the battle against the virus, are now at the front of the line to receive the vaccine. They have priority because of their essential role in keeping the healthcare system running, as well as the need to protect themselves and their patients.

As early vaccine recipients, our employees have also become role models for the general public.

“Our staff was there through the pandemic, and now they’re acting as ambassadors, so that the rest of society will follow suit with the vaccine,” says Amina Talib, Associate Director of Human Resources. “They continue to play a crucial role in the fight to control and contain the pandemic.”

Experts say the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine offers hope for a post-pandemic future, providing the best method available to protect people from the virus. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were approved by Health Canada. They are safe and highly effective, with an efficacy evaluated at about 95 per cent.

And it was no small feat to create a vaccine in under a year without compromising safety. The pandemic spurred unprecedented global cooperation for the vaccine’s development and distribution.

The importance of these events was experienced first-hand by Mr. Mansouri. Three days before he was vaccinated himself, he administered the first vaccine at Maimonides—and, by extension, the first in all of Montreal. In fact, Mr. Mansouri probably gave one of the first anti-COVID-19 vaccinations in the world. “This really feels like a historic moment,” he says.

What to expect when you get the COVID-19 vaccine

Thousands of employees from our CIUSSS will soon begin the process of getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Here’s a guide to how it will work.

First, based on where you fall on the priority list set by the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, you’ll be contacted by the COVID-19 Employee Assistance Line from CIUSSS West-Central Montreal. If you have any clinical questions, a nurse will call you back. If you had a severe allergic reaction to the first dose of the two-dose regime, or are allergic to one of the components, you should not take the vaccine.

You will then be given an appointment to receive your first dose, along with an appointment for a second dose.

On the day of your appointment, to which you should show up 15 minutes early, your belongings will be put in a plastic bag for infection control. You will be asked to show your RAMQ and CIUSSS identification card, and you will be given a form to fill out. Then you will wait for a vaccination nurse to see you, while respecting physical distancing protocols.

The nurse will ask you a series of questions to ensure you are able to receive the vaccine; then the nurse will explain common side effects, including minor pain in the arm, fatigue and fever. You will then be handed a sheet explaining other possible side effects that could occur once you get home.

Finally, the vaccine will be injected into the muscle of your arm. The process takes seconds. Afterwards, you will be monitored for 15 minutes while seated in a chair (which is thoroughly disinfected between appointments). Once you get clearance to leave, you will exit through the back of the room to ensure proper physical distancing.

Remember that even after you have been vaccinated, it’s important to follow protective measures such as wearing a mask, physical distancing and hand washing.

It should also be noted that the vaccine cannot cause COVID-19 because it does not contain the virus that causes the illness.

Staff members can expect to receive a survey about the vaccine that will help the CIUSSS support employees and plan its rollout effectively.

Those who have questions about the vaccine can call our CIUSSS’s COVID-19 Employee Assistance Line, between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., at 514-731-7343. This phone number should not be used to book appointments.