On December 21, exactly nine months and 17 days after Trillium Health Partners (THP) treated its first patient with COVID-19, the hospital administered the first COVID-19 vaccine in Peel Region.
The vaccine was given by Nasha Zaheer, a registered nurse who has been on the front lines since the very beginning in March, working in the first dedicated COVID-19 unit treating the earliest THP patients.
“This past year has been trying for all of us and no one has felt it more deeply than those of us on the frontlines, or families who have lost a loved one to this virus,” Zaheer said. “The arrival of this vaccine gives our community as a whole renewed hope and optimism for a healthier, happier new year.”
The first person to receive the vaccine at THP was Bella Rego, a Registered Nurse at Camilla Care Community, a Mississauga long-term care home hard-hit by COVID-19 during the first wave.
“I am honoured to be the first of many in our community to receive this vaccine,” Rego said. “This milestone moment marks a welcome and positive turning point for long-term care and I am proud to have rolled up my sleeve not only for my health, but also for our residents, family and friends.”
THP is among the first hospitals in Ontario to administer the vaccine and a dedicated COVID-19 vaccination team is in place, working closely with public health at the local, provincial and federal levels. Administration of the vaccine will happen in phases, according to the key populations defined by the provincial and federal governments, beginning with long-term care workers.
“It is truly an honour for Trillium to be a designated hospital to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in this community,” said Michelle DiEmanuele, President & CEO of THP . “This vaccine not only represents a positive shift in the pandemic’s course, but what can be achieved when partners across all health systems, levels of government and community come together.”
THP has been one of three hospitals in Ontario caring for the most number of patients with COVID-19 and since receiving the first patient on March 4, 2020, the hospital has now cared for more than 800 patients with the virus.
“THP is proud to play a key role in the biggest immunization program in a century and the continued fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Dante Morra, Chief of Staff. “As we now find ourselves in a second wave with numbers increasing, we know that there is still a lot of work to be done, but today gives much needed hope to brighter days ahead.”
Although the vaccine brings renewed hope, the rollout is still in the early stages and the hospital’s ability to care for our community’s most urgent needs remains dependent on our effort, jointly as a community to stop the spread. It is critical, now more than ever, to follow public health guidelines: wash your hands, stay home, wear a mask, do not visit with those outside your household and get your flu shot.
Photo: Nasha Zaheer, THP Registered Nurse, administers Peel’s first COVID-19 vaccine to long-term care nurse Bella Rego.