'It's giving people hope': Families react to vaccine arriving in Sudbury care homes
SUDBURY -- It's been a long, difficult and in some cases deadly year for those living in care homes in Sudbury, but after months of waiting and wondering, a vaccine for COVID-19 has arrived.
On Monday, Public Health Sudbury & Districts announced it received enough of the Moderna vaccine that all residents of care homes should be receiving their shot by Feb. 5.
It's welcome news for some like Evelyn Dutrisac, the president of St. Gabriel Villa family council, and whose husband calls the facility home.
"It's a real blessing because it's giving people hope, it's giving us hope that finally we're going to be vaccinated and we're going to have protection against COVID-19, against the pandemic and this means we're going to be able to meet with our families," said Dutrisac.
A former politician and teacher, she visits her husband daily as an essential caregiver. She's one of the few Sudburians who sees the situation inside on a regular basis.
"I'm meeting people, I'm seeing them when I go to dinner with my husband and help him with his dinner and they're saying they have hope," Dutrisac said.
"You can see it in their eyes, you can hear it in their voice. They know that it's going to come to an end. … It might mean that we still have the masks or the distancing, but it doesn't matter. At least there's hope."
Terry Martyn, who sits on the family council at Pioneer Manor in Sudbury, would agree with those sentiments.
"It's great news and it comes at a very scary but opportune time," Martyn said. "Look at the spread of the virus through other homes in southern Ontario."
With the more infectious COVID variant likely already in Sudbury, and given what happened to some long-term care homes, including Roberta Place in Barrie, he said the vaccine couldn't come soon enough.
"It just takes on person to be infected, bring it into the home and then it starts spreading," Martyn said. "The scary part now is that it's community spread and so many people now are asymptomatic, you don't know who has been infected with the virus."
Sandra Lafave-Ransom, whose mother is a resident at Elizabeth Centre in Val Caron, is more than ready to put the pandemic behind her.
'I'm very excited'
"I'm very excited, we've been waiting for this for a long time and I'm hoping this is going to give us relief from this virus," Lafave-Ransom said.
She and her husband will be first in line to get their shot once it's available, to keep her mother safe.
It's been a long road for her and her family, who have found it extremely difficult to be separated from her mother. Lafave-Ransom said the facility has just started a 30-day lockdown of essential caregivers to keep residents safe.
"No resident has tested positive at the site, for which I'm thankful. Us as essential caregivers, I'm having to go in once a week to be swabbed for COVID, which I've been doing faithfully. I'll do whatever it takes."
Others, though, aren't so sure about the vaccine. One woman who didn't want to be identified said she doesn't even know if she'll be able to get the vaccine.
She said her father has never had to have a single needle in his life and has already declared he doesn't want the vaccine.
"For me I'm worried because I have auto-immune, they're telling me I can't take that needle," she said. "Am I going to be punished? Is he going to be punished because I won't be able to see him because I didn't take it?"
She visits her father regularly and said the whole situation has left her in limbo, with more questions than answers.
Pioneer Manor and Extendicare York residents have reportedly already been getting their shots and St. Gabriel Villa is expected to get its allotment sometime next week.
There are currently four homes in the Greater Sudbury area that are listed as in outbreak by Public Health Sudbury and Districts, including Amberwood Suites, where five people have died from the virus.