Administrative assistant Sasha Bagnall says she was hesitant at first, but changed her mind about COVID vaccines after getting information from trusted sources. (Video: UHN)

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented pressures on the Canadian healthcare system. It has killed several million people around the world and devastated families. It has disrupted the life we knew.

Despite all the challenges and loss, vaccines were developed safely and quickly. Experts agree that they are our best bet to win the fight against the virus, but it will depend on people deciding to take the shot.

"Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic, but to achieve herd immunity, we need people to trust science and trust the vaccines," says Dr. John Granton, respirologist and Intensive Care physician at UHN, who is leading vaccine confidence initiatives across the organization.

To help promote safe conversations around vaccines, UHN is launching a video series called "Give it a Shot: Let's put an end to COVID, together!"

In the series, volunteer participants from different sites and in different roles at UHN have recorded testimonials. Whether they were always vaccine champions, or they had any previous concerns, participants share their personal stories and honest views on why they believe the vaccine was the right choice for them.

"At first I was concerned about how fast the vaccines had been developed and I also didn't think I needed the vaccine, since I was a healthy individual, and there was information circling around that COVID was just like the flu for someone who was healthy," says administrative assistant Sasha Bagnall in her testimonial.

After watching a presentation at Toronto Rehab about vaccines and talking to trusted sources, Sasha says she changed her mind.

"The vaccine is making changes, it is saving lives," she says. "Getting vaccinated is something I can do to be a part of reducing the spread of this disease."

Nurse practitioner Alicia Healey is seeing young patients get very sick with COVID. She says side effects are so minimal that it is worth taking the COVID vaccine to be protected against the virus. (Video: UHN)

Alicia Healey, a nurse practitioner on the Transplant and Intensive Care units who also participates in the series, shared her experience caring for patients who are very sick with COVID – patients who are young, in their 40s, she says.

"Side effects (from the vaccine) are so minimal that it's worth it not to have COVID," Alicia says.

"Death from COVID is worse than a potential blood clot."

UHN will be posting videos internally and through social media to help promote safe conversations and increase confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines available in Canada.

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