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It was exactly one year ago – Dec. 14, 2020 – when UHN made history, administering the first COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario amid national media, sustained applause and renewed hope.
Five staff from the Rekai Centres in Toronto, a long-term care home partnered with UHN earlier in the pandemic, became the first healthcare workers in Canada to receive their vaccines.
It took place in the gymnasium at the Michener Institute of Education at UHN, which was set up as the pilot site to give vaccinations to healthcare workers from long-term care home across Toronto.
By the time the five Rekai employees received their second shot three weeks later, about 4,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine had been administered at UHN. In addition, members of TeamUHN were vaccinating residents and staff at long-term care homes as part of an unprecedented Ontario-wide campaign.
"UHN is proud to play a leading role in launching Canada's COVID-19 vaccination program," Dr. Kevin Smith, President & CEO, said moments after the first doses were administered on that day.
"This was a victory day for science," he said.
Anita Quidangen, a personal support worker who joined Rekai in 1988 when it opened, made history by becoming Ontario's first COVID-19 vaccine recipient.
"I'm so happy and thankful to have been the first to receive this," Anita said moments later.
Sue Graham-Nutter, CEO of the Rekai Centres, called it "such an emotional day.
"It's been such a journey for us," Sue said. "UHN has been with us all through this journey, culminating with the vaccine being given to members of our team, and we thank you."
Tamara Dus, Director of Health Services at UHN, administered all five of the initial vaccinations.
"I've done vaccinations for decades and I'm just so proud to be part of this," Tamara said.