ICU physician Dr. Jeffrey Betcher was one of the first two people in the province to be immunized for COVID-19. We caught up with Jeff for his insights on his vaccination experience.
Why was getting vaccinated important to you?
It’s important that we set an example. Immunization is another layer of protection, and I think it's an important step in seeing this [COVID-19 pandemic] through to the end. As healthcare providers if we don't step up and do this, how can we expect everyone else to step up as well? It's really important that we set the example and set the tone for everyone else.
Has your attitude changed about COVID-19 vaccination between your first dose and now?
Well, I would probably say I feel stronger about the need for vaccination. We’ve seen that the numbers are not going down the way we hoped. As health care providers, we should take the first opportunity to get vaccinated. We set the example.
What were reactions from colleagues, friends and family when you were vaccinated?
I had hardly walked out of the room where we got vaccinated and I was already getting texts and emails from friends and colleagues, and they were all encouraging.
Any negative reactions?
No, there hasn’t been anything negative said directly to me. Interestingly, if you look at the Spanish Flu, 100 years ago, there were anti-maskers and conspiracy theories back then, too; they just didn't have vaccinations.
Did you have any anxiety being immunized?
It happened so quickly I don't think I had any time to be anxious. I’ve been getting my flu shot for years, and I've never been nervous about immunizations.
Any side effects from either dose?
No, I never even had a sore arm.
Being one of the first in the province to be vaccinated, have you had the opportunity to educate others about vaccines?
I don’t go many places outside of the hospital these days, and most of my patients in ICU are unconscious. For the non-medical contacts, I use whatever influence I have to encourage people to get immunized as soon as they have the chance.
What do you say to anyone who isn’t sure about being vaccinated?
There's decades of science behind vaccinations. Smallpox has been eliminated with vaccines. When was the last time we had polio? The evidence that we've seen with measles outbreaks in areas that don't have vaccinations is evidence enough to say that there's something to this and we really need to take advantage of it.
Dr. Jeffrey Betcher, ICU Physician, receives one of the first COVID-19 vaccinations in Saskatchewan on December 16, 2020.