First Albertan to get COVID-19 shot reflects on vaccines a year later – CTV News Edmonton

The first person in Alberta to get a COVID-19 vaccine is reflecting on what she’s learned in the year since getting her first dose.
Sahra Kaahiye is an Edmonton respiratory therapist who got her first dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 15, 2020. It was the first dose of any COVID-19 vaccine administered in the province.
"I was not expecting to be the first," said Kaahiye.
Kaahiye said she was one of the last respiratory therapists in her department to book her appointment, and would’ve been the last to get her first dose if it weren’t for an early shipment of vaccines to Alberta.
"It just happened to be serendipity that the vaccines came in a day early and I was able to get an earlier appointment rather than be one of the last, and also be the first in the line that day," she said.
Kaahiye said that being the first to get vaccinated in the province put the work respiratory therapists do during the pandemic in the public eye.
"A lot of people didn’t know about respiratory therapists, what they’re doing and how many of them are on the front line and ICU and in emerg," she said. "Being able to shine a spotlight on them was pretty nice."
The province vaccinated 3,900 health care workers in Edmonton and Calgary with that first shipment. Since then, more than seven million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the province.
"I’m happy that that number of people have gotten the vaccine," Kaahiye said.
In the past year Kaahiye has had a lot of time to reflect on the impact she made by getting the first dose in Alberta.
"A lot of the things I’ve realized afterwards in the beginning was to make sure people from my community and communities like mine could see me getting the vaccine and that might be able to promote them to get it," she said.
Kaahiye said she did a lot of research before and after getting that first dose, because she wanted to make sure she was a good advocate for people who were hesitant to get vaccinated. She said she has received a lot of messages from people in the Somali community who say they saw her fearlessness as a reason to get their own first dose.
"A lot has changed in terms of how people perceive this vaccine, the more people that they know that got it, the more comfortable they feel getting it, additionally though, we have to acknowledge the vaccine passport had a large role to play with that as well."
Her advice for anyone hesitant about getting the vaccine is to not be afraid to ask questions at the risk of being labelled an anti-vaxxer.
"Whatever is making them hesitant is a valid reason, I think we have to be very careful not to put people into two different divisions of anti-vaxxer just because they are being vaccine hesitant," said Kaahiye.
"Everybody has a right to their concern, everybody has a right to what they’re afraid of."
Kaahiye said AHS has resources available if people are feeling hesitant about the vaccine, and would like more information.
"We all want to see the other side together and go back to fully normal together."
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