Gina Silva, Communication Supervisor, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services

Gina Silva, Communication Supervisor, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services

I’m a 911 communication operator supervisor in the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services. As a supervisor, there are up to 15 people in my platoon that I’m responsible for. The way the desks are set up, we can’t physically distance ourselves, so we’ve been wearing masks in the office 24/7 since March 2020. 

My husband is a firefighter medic, so he’s on the front line, and I’ve worried that he might bring the virus home. I have two kids going to school. Our 9-year-old son is a type 1 diabetic and not eligible for the vaccine which is really scary. If he has even a normal cold I have to stay up all night to monitor his blood sugar, so if he catches COVID, I’m really concerned it will be hard to manage his health.

Before COVID, my day planner was colour coded with hockey, swimming, dance, and other activities. We’ve gone from that to having too much screen time, but it’s the only way the kids can see their friends. My daughter is 13 years old and is now eligible for the COVID vaccine which is great. My kids already get the flu shot and all their other vaccines so I’m confident the COVID shot will be safe for them as well.

I was vaccinated with both doses in February. With the second dose, 22 hours after the vaccine, I said to my husband, “I’m exhausted, I’m going to take a nap.” I woke up 12 hours later! But other than that I didn’t have any side effects.

I got vaccinated because I wasn’t going to take a chance of exposing my family members to COVID. My mom and dad are in their 70s and my mom has cardiac issues. You may think you’re healthy. I’m healthy! But I still felt I had to do my part—for me, it’s all about protecting other people!

My parents are my kids’ caregivers and they wanted to get vaccinated. When I booked my parents’ vaccine appointment recently, it only took about 10 minutes. Normally I go with my parents to their medical appointments to translate as they speak Portuguese, so I also went with them to the vaccine appointment. Now I’ve learned that there are multilingual services so when you call to book an appointment you can get help in over 100 languages. I even learned that you can book a companion translator to escort you through your appointment. I’m glad I could be there for my parents, but for those who don’t have anyone, that’s a great service to offer.

When people get their vaccine and COVID becomes manageable, I look forward to a time we can get together with friends and family. We have a group of close-knit friends, both adults and kids, with whom we like to have dinner parties. In a more normal future, we have family in Europe who we would love to go see. Then we can reflect on the sacrifices of front-line workers, and remember how we as Manitobans and the world came together to manage COVID and got our lives back.

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Additional Resources

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine from official sources.