Humboldt paramedics given Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

HUMBOLDT — Over half of the first responders at the Humboldt and District Ambulance Service have now received their first of two Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses to be inoculated against COVID-19.

The Pfizer-BioNTech inoculation is a mRNA vaccine, which works by teaching the body’s cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response without using the live virus that causes COVID-19. Once triggered, the body makes antibodies which help fight the infection should it occur.

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Humboldt and District Ambulance supervisor and paramedic Derek Dagenais said that while some of their staff who also work in Saskatoon have already received the vaccine, Feb. 18 marked the first chance the full-time Humboldt staff have had to get it.

“Everybody within our service that was a frontline paramedic and active in patient care had access to it if they chose to,” Dagenais said.

“Some had commitments that couldn’t actually show up for – work schedules, that sort of thing. Some of them have been immunized in other locations.”

Dagenais said the team’s process to get vaccinated had similarities to past flu-clinics held at the hospital.

“Obviously there’s the forms, and paperwork, and reading the literature ahead of time to ensure we know everything about it that we can to get it,” he said. “Then we go in for the needle, and the waiting period to make sure there’s no reaction.”

The waiting period took about 15 minutes.

“For us it’s a positive step forward in the right direction,” he said. “Things are happening, so it’s a good time in healthcare.”

While the date for paramedics receiving the second dose hasn’t been set, they expect it to be within the typical 42 days between injections.

Dagenais assured that despite some receiving the first dose of the vaccine, pandemic protocols will remain in place for the first responders.

“It’s just important that people continue to stay safe and follow the government regulations at this time. It’s coming from well-trained people that know what’s best for us at this time. We just need to hang along a little longer.”

A total of 10 paramedics employed by the Humboldt and District Ambulance Service received the dose on Feb. 18.

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