Since last March, we’ve all been patiently awaiting the day we can reunite with our loved ones. With COVID-19 vaccinations beginning to roll out, that day is getting closer than ever.
The light at the end of the tunnel is starting to get brighter, and according to a recent report, all Waterloo Region residents could have their first dose of the life-saving vaccine by June.
While the vaccine takes just minutes to administer, the preparation and collaboration to get folks vaccinated have accounted for hours of work by local community members.
The vaccination rollout has turned out to be something more powerful, collaborative and communal. In true KW fashion, different organizations across the community have been stepping up to the plate to help make this process run smoothly.
Sheryl Tilley, manager of library services for Region of Waterloo Library (RWL), explained what folks in her line of work have been doing to help members of the community book their appointments for their vaccinations.
“When the call came out for pre-registration for the vaccine, there were over 6,600 people registered to receive phone calls, which is a strong indication that there is a significant part of our population across the region who prefers this kind of contact to electronic communication,” Tilley explained.
Looking at the sheer number of requests for phone calls about vaccine booking, RWL quickly realized that the region needed boots on the ground.
“Classically, libraries have always been integral to public service in our communities, so it was just natural for us to step up and do this work,” Tilley said.
When the initiative of making these life-saving phone calls began, the library had over 6,000 calls to make for community members in the 80+ age range. As of March 26, they were down to 59 phone calls.
“Staff have been calling between 3 and 35 hours a week, depending on their schedule, and also while keeping library services fully functioning,” Tilley said.
“I’ve gotta say that this has been one of the most rewarding things we have been able to do.”
The Region of Waterloo Museums have also been hard at work, volunteering their time to help get folks vaccinated.
“Instead of reopening the museums, because there are so many restrictions in regards to attendance, we thought it would be a better use of our staffing resources to help out with the vaccination program,” Keri Solomon, manager of the Region of Waterloo Museums, said.
Since March, about 15 museum staff members have been working in the vaccination clinics or as part of the volunteer management team component for the vaccination program.
“Our staff are really good at engaging the public and providing excellent customer service, so a lot of these skills are transferable to the vaccination efforts,” Solomon said.
The community response from the museums’ efforts has been very positive.
“Our members are aware that we are using our resources to help the vaccination effort, and the response has been very positive … they understand that this is a way that we can help out the community and public health,” Solomon said.
“The pandemic itself has involved the community, and there is no better way to help put efforts in place to stop the spread of the virus than to utilize our resources in the community.”
While assisting with booking vaccines and working in the clinics is crucial work, getting folks to their appointment is equally as important.
Waterloo Taxi is offering a flat rate for community members who need a lift to their vaccination appointments, at a discounted rate.
“We really wanted to give back to the community,” Patsy Egerdeen, office administrator at Waterloo Taxi said.
As more vaccines become available to our community members, the light at the end of the tunnel burns brighter. The strength and resilience of our community do too, as we see different organizations across the region come together to help one another in these trying times.
“It always feels good to give back to the community, and these are the simple things we can do to help out,” Egerdeen said.
Amelia is the Station Manager for Radio Laurier. Starting out as a DJ in 2017, Amelia now leads the Station. She loves Radio Laurier almost as much as Spike Lee films and her Nona’s cooking.