Registered nurse Leah Sawatsky was one of the first two people in the province to be immunized for COVID-19. We caught up with Leah for her insights on her vaccination experience.
Registered Nurse Leah Sawatsky (right) receives one of the first COVID-19 vaccinations in Saskatchewan, Dec. 16, 2020
Why was getting vaccinated important to you?
I see COVID positive people at work every day, and vaccination is a way to protect my patients, myself and my family. I have to make sure my three kids are protected, and that I will be here for them.It's also important for health care workers to be a role model for the public. People might be scared or hesitant to be vaccinated, so seeing us stepping forward is helpful.
Has your attitude changed about COVID-19 vaccination between your first dose and now?
I would say I’m an even stronger advocate because we aren’t seeing enough of a change in our infection numbers. Everybody needs to be on board for this to work.
What were reactions from colleagues, friends and family when you were vaccinated?
I only had positive comments. My phone was blowing up with support from friends, family, and people I haven't spoken to since high school, so that was nice.
Any negative reactions?
Nobody has been negative to my face but there’s been comments on Facebook - which doesn't bother me at all. There were a handful of people on social media saying the vaccination was fake and that I wasn't actually getting it. One gentleman even said that I probably had a gun to my head, and was told I would lose my job if I didn't get vaccinated.
I’m not sure what we would gain from faking it. Our only goal is to stop the spread of COVID, and the severity of the illness to get us back to normal, see each other face to face again. Older populations in particular are really eager to be vaccinated.
Did you have any anxiety being immunized?
I don't think I did. I had some questions initially, but I did my own research. I learned more about mRNA vaccines and how they're developed and the extensive research behind them and ultimately, I trusted that my employer wouldn't put me in a position that wasn't in my best interest.
Any side effects from either dose?
Nothing from either dose.
Being one of the first in the province to be vaccinated, have you had the opportunity to educate others about vaccines?
When some of my patients see my immunization sticker they ask questions. How it was, if I was nervous at all, if I’ve had any side effects? It’s a good conversation starter.
What do you say to anyone who isn’t sure about being vaccinated?
What many people don't know is that even a lot of young, healthy people who get COVID end up with long standing health issues. In my opinion, the very small risk of side effects from a vaccine, is safer than not being vaccinated and seeing what cards you are dealt after getting COVID-19.