Sask. healthcare workers reflect on COVID-19 vaccine experience

As of March 8, nearly 93,000 Saskatchewan residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Photo illustration by Jessica Colby.

As Saskatchewan prepares to launch into phase two of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout program, frontline workers who have received the vaccine are discussing their experiences.

Amanda Kutsak is a radiology technologist in Fort Qu’Appelle who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. She has received both doses of the vaccine.

“It did sting a little bit,” said Kutsak. “The needle part itself wasn’t too bad, but when they actually injected it you could feel it and it burnt inside the arm just a little bit, but nothing that’s any different than, say, the flu vaccination.”

Donna Colby, a laboratory technologist in Fort Qu’Appelle, has also received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

“Getting the shot didn’t hurt,” said Colby.

Both Colby and Kutsak had their vaccines administered by a nurse.

According to the Government of Canada website, possible side effects of the Pfizer vaccine include body chills, injection site pain, feeling tired and feeling feverish.

“With my first dose, I would say two or three days later I did have a little bit of a stuffy nose with it and just feeling a little bit under the weather,” said Kutsak.

“With the second dose, I found that one – and they also tell you this – that the side effects can be a little bit more intense and I definitely did feel a stronger side effect. My muscles and joints hurt, and it only lasted for maybe 12 hours, if that. For me, my side effects were quite minimal.”

There are now four vaccines available to fight COVID-19. The vaccine by Pfizer was the first to be approved in Canada. The approval came on Dec. 9, 2020. It was closely followed by the Moderna vaccine, which was approved two weeks later on Dec. 23. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was the first vaccine of 2021 to be approved, on Feb. 26. And just last week, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was approved by Health Canada. The vaccines are  mRNA vaccines, which means they do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19. It will not infect the recipient with COVID-19.

“With the first dose I had no side effects,” said Colby. “With the second dose, around 48 hours later, I felt joint pain all over my body. That lasted about 12 hours.”

Kutsak said she had a bit of hesitation in getting vaccinated due to the quick rollout. Although, that lessened once she began researching the vaccines.

“Once you started reading up on the vaccination itself and how it was developed, it kind of just put my mind at ease and I was just like, ‘Yep, I definitely want this,’ ” said Kutsak.

Colby had no hesitation when it came to getting her COVID-19 vaccine.

“Pharmaceutical companies have a lot of advancements and technology to develop safe vaccines,” said Colby.

Currently, Saskatchewan is in phase one of its vaccine delivery plan, according to the Government of Saskatchewan website. That means priority populations – which include frontline healthcare workers and long-term care home residents – are eligible to be vaccinated.

According to the Government of Saskatchewan’s Twitter, nearly 900 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were given in Saskatchewan on March 8. This brings the provincial total to almost 93,000 administered vaccines.

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