‘Nervous but exhilarating’: Medicine Hat woman gets Alberta’s first dose of Moderna vaccine

LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. — A 63-year old Medicine Hat woman says it was “mind boggling” after she became the first long term care home resident in Alberta to receive the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine Wednesday.

Sheila Veeder was congratulated in a tweet by Premier Jason Kenney, who shared a photo of the Riverview Care Centre resident being immunized.

“Sheila is a resident at Riverview Care Centre in Medicine Hat. She was once an avid dancer until a stroke & 2 heart attacks slowed her dance moves but couldn’t slow her spirit,” Kenney tweeted.

“Congrats Sheila!”

Kenney vaccine tweet

When told about the tweet Veeder responded, “Oh dear, I’ll check that out. That I gotta see!”

The Moderna vaccine was approved only eight days ago. Alberta got 16,900 doses Tuesday, and the vaccine is now being rolled out to care homes in Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie, Fort Saskatchewan and St. Paul.

It will also go to seniors who are living on six First Nations reserves along with other remote communities.

The priority for the Moderna immunizations are high-risk people living in long-term care facilities and supporting living facilities.

The Moderna vaccine doesn’t require deep freeze storage like the Pfizer vaccine, which means it’s much easier to transport and ideal for immunizing the elderly.

Moderna vaccine

 Vedeer said she found out Tuesday she would be first in line, based on her last name being at the end of the alphabet.

“That’s how I got picked, V for Veeder.”

Vedeer, who moved into the Riverview Care Centre in November of 2019, said the pandemic restrictions have made it very lonely for many care home residents.

“You get frustrated because you can’t talk to anybody except on the phone or FaceTime if you’ve got that ability.”

Veeder said she hasn’t been worried about herself but doesn’t want to see others go downhill because of COVID, including a resident who is 100-years old.

“There’s a lot of good people in here that don’t deserve to come down with COVID because of irresponsibility,” added Veeder.

Premier Kenney called the Moderna rollout exciting news for staff, residents and families of these facilities, “who’ve been on the front lines of our battle with COVID-19 since the spring, and who’ve experienced untold pain and loss.”

Two-thirds of Alberta’s 1046 COVID-19 deaths are linked to long-term care homes.

Vedeer said she hopes more people will get the vaccine, keep masks on, and obey the health regulations.

“Keep the children safe and the grandparents safe, that’s what I hope for.”

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