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Niagara Falls
Sunday, March 26, 2023
‘I got the Shot’ — Disappointed it wasn’t sooner, but happy to have vaccine

About 100,000 daffodils are about to bloom in nine different gardens around Niagara-on-the-Lake. The bulbs were planted in support of people touched by cancer and the force of energy behind the gardens was Sheila Hirsch-Kalm.  

More recently though, Hirsch-Kalm has been engaged in a different quest, this one to get her COVID-19 vaccine as early as possible.

Hirsch-Kalm is 84, and she has some significant medical conditions, including a compromised immune system and cancer. Visiting nurses provide care to her at home, but they also visit more than a dozen other patients, making her nervous about their exposure to others and potential exposure to the virus.

For those reasons, Hirsch-Kalm was confident she’d be able to get the vaccine as part of any early delivery. 

“I called various offices but they were no help. My call to a local public health line was not fruitful, either,” she recounts.

“I kept hearing of others who had received a phone call directing them to a location where they would get their vaccine ahead of the other over-80s. But it seems I did not make it to that list!”

Though disappointed at the wait time, Hirsch-Kalm booked her appointment online when it opened up to all people over 80 and got her appointment for April 1at the NOTL Community Centre. Her husband, Michael, 80, got an appointment right after hers. 

The experience was “a pleasure from the minute we arrived,” says Hirsch-Kalm, adding, “everyone at the clinic did an excellent job.”

After all the waiting, Hirsch-Kalm was happy to get the vaccine at last.

“It gives me a sense of having a safety net, even though we don’t know exactly how safe it will be,” she said. “I’ll still wear a mask and keep a safe distance from others.”

The vaccine may be somewhat less effective for people with compromised immune systems, although there’s no research yet to measure that. 

Neither Hirsch-Kalm nor her husband felt any adverse reaction to the shot initially. In fact, the morning after, Hirsch-Kalm said she’d forgotten about it, until she saw the bandage on the floor after it had fallen off her arm.

Both she and her husband did experience some some ill effects a few days later, nausea and shivers, but they cleared up quickly. 

With the vaccine and the frustrations of getting it scheduled behind her, Hirsch-Kalm’s energy and attention are now focused on her garden – and the next task at hand which she likens to a military manoeuvre.

With help from three others, more than 60 containers of bulbs and other plants will be moved out of storage and planted, to continue their growth in the spring sunshine, warming temperatures and April showers.

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