Katelyn Goertzen, RNBN, WRHA Rapid Response Nurse

Katelyn Goertzen, RNBN, WRHA Rapid Response Nurse

Born and raised in southern Manitoba, and now living in central Winnipeg, I’m well aware of how COVID-19 has challenged every aspect of society. The first lockdown began while I worked at Children’s Hospital, then I transitioned to Community IV nursing, and finally, I joined Rapid Response Nursing (RRN). 

Within RRN, my team and I adapted to new roles to combat the pandemic, like providing mobile COVID testing in people’s homes. For many of the people I tested, I was the first person they had seen in weeks or even months. It’s bittersweet to see their delight in simply having human interaction – even with me, a stranger. I fondly remember a family with young children who begged me to stay and play with them. And I was saddened by an elderly lady who was worried she wouldn’t get to see her family before she died. 

As part of my work with the Rapid Response Nursing team I was also deployed to personal care homes that were the sites of COVID-19 outbreaks. During this time I witnessed not only extreme loneliness, but also remarkable resilience among the residents, and was privileged to listen to many of their stories. One man had contracted the polio virus as a child and survived after ending up in an iron lung. He shared with me the immense relief and celebration people felt once the polio vaccine was available. This same man would go on to battle and recover from COVID-19, and he rejoiced in the development of the COVID vaccine. Among the stories of triumph are also those of heartbreak: individuals who died of the COVID virus, and those who despairingly did so without their loved ones at their side.

In January 2021 I received the Pfizer vaccine alongside my mother, who is a Primary Health Care Nurse. We celebrated with ice cream afterwards. Initially, I had reservations about the vaccine and the perceived unknowns. However, I became more confident in my decision as I read credible vaccine data, and through hearing others’ vaccination experiences. I too wanted to share my experience, hoping to help others feel more comfortable about getting vaccinated. Though I had no symptoms after the first dose, I developed aching joints and fatigue after the second, which persisted for four days, but quickly resolved once I had a day off work spent resting. Allowing the body the time it needs to rest is helpful as your immune system is working hard to develop antibodies against the virus. Common post-vaccination symptoms can be likened to sore muscles you might have after physical activity: both suggest the body is strengthening and requires recovery.

Throughout the pandemic chaos, what has kept me steady is my relationship with God through Jesus. When I saw hopelessness, I had unwavering hope; when I felt weary and tired, I was encouraged and strengthened; when I was sad and lonely, I experienced joy; when I was afraid, I found peace and courage through trusting God.

This pandemic has taught me to love more fully, to find joy in the little things, to treat each encounter with someone as a gift with opportunity for connection, and to creatively communicate while covered head to toe in PPE. The vaccine provides us with a glimmer of hope. I look forward to experiencing life with others again – to celebrate my nieces’ birthdays, play cards with my grandma, go on adventures with friends, and simply smile at a stranger indoors.


More Stories

Dustin McDuffe, Vax to Win Lottery Winner

Dustin McDuffe, Vax to Win Lottery Winner

Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority Winner of the Vax to Win Lottery

When I found out I won the Vax to Win lottery I phoned my wife right away. I think she was even more excited than I was. At first, I didn’t believe it could be real, like it was too good to be true. I know it’s real now, but part of me still can’t believe I’m going to get a cheque for a hundred grand!

I work in construction and I live in Beausejour. I got vaccinated because I want to travel. My dad owns a place in Mexico, and every couple of years in the winter my wife and I go down with our two kids–one is in high school and one has graduated. Mexico is a place the whole family really enjoys vacationing and we want to go back as soon as we can.

For my COVID vaccine I went to the Super-Site clinic in Selkirk and had two doses of Pfizer, with the first shot in July. I felt fine afterwards, the only side effect was a bit of a sore arm.

Our plans for the winnings are pretty boring. We’re planning to pay off bills and put some money towards the mortgage on our house.

I buy lottery tickets sometimes, but I’ve never won anything before. And this time I won without even having to buy a ticket! I wasn’t thinking about the lottery when I was vaccinated, but I do hope more Manitobans get their shot. 

I’ll look forward to celebrating our vaccines and our lottery win with the whole family on a warm getaway to Mexico this coming winter.

Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority Winner of the Vax to Win Lottery When I found out I won the Vax to Win lottery I phoned my wife right away. I think she was even more excited than I was. At first, I didn’t believe it could be real, like it was too good to be true. […]

Kerry Maskiew, Vax to Win Lottery Winner

Kerry Maskiew, Vax to Win Lottery Winner

Southern Health-Santé Sud Health Authority Winner of the Vax to Win Lottery

The morning they called to tell me I won the Vax to Win Lottery, I woke up my wife: “Honey, we just won the lottery!” We hugged! We were so happy. We’ve been to hundreds of socials over the years, entered draws, and we’ve never won a prize until now.

In October 2020, my mother moved into Parkview Place, a personal care home that had experienced an outbreak of COVID-19 where people died. There was no vaccine at the time. We worked hard to move her elsewhere, and we’re so grateful she didn’t contract COVID. My wife is also a stroke survivor, so she’s susceptible—it wouldn’t be good if she got COVID.

So my decision to be immunized for COVID-19 was easy, because I knew I was protecting my mom and my wife. 

For our first dose, my wife and I had AstraZeneca administered at our doctor’s office in April. At first I felt general soreness, aches and pains, and then had a slight headache, but by day four I was back to normal. My second dose was Pfizer and I didn’t have any side-effects.

I work as an architectural specification writer with Stantec in Winnipeg. We have three adult children. We celebrated my lottery win with steak and lobsters with our child who lives locally. We’ll visit our other kids, who live in other parts of Canada, and go out for celebration dinners with all of them too. We’ll use the winnings to renovate our bathroom to make it more accessible for my wife.

I think vaccination is something we all should want to do to get our lives back to some semblance of normality. It’s terrible to think that you could be a carrier and infect somebody and cause them to die. I encourage all Manitobans to get the vaccine, and know that you won’t be needlessly propagating this disease.

Southern Health-Santé Sud Health Authority Winner of the Vax to Win Lottery The morning they called to tell me I won the Vax to Win Lottery, I woke up my wife: “Honey, we just won the lottery!” We hugged! We were so happy. We’ve been to hundreds of socials over the years, entered draws, and […]

Dr. Jared Bullard

Dr. Jared Bullard, Pediatrician, Children’s Hospital

As an infectious disease expert, pediatrician, public health virologist and a father of two children aged 14 and 11, I’ve been uniquely positioned to offer advice over the past year as the new COVID vaccine was introduced in Manitoba. 

In my practice as a pediatrician I’m used to explaining the need for regular immunizations for diseases such as pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, diphtheria, and measles. Today, many parents I talk to don’t even know what these diseases are because they’re so rare. That’s amazing to me because only 100 years ago these were all diseases that children were regularly exposed to, and resulted in severe illness and even death for thousands of Canadian children. Today, these diseases are under control, and we have the luxury of collectively ‘forgetting’ about them, because our vaccination programs have been so effective in reducing and eliminating them from our everyday lives. 

Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination is at the top of everyone’s mind! Most people actually feel quite confident about the safety of regular immunizations for their children, as they had those same vaccinations when they were children themselves. With COVID though, there’s more questions. And that’s understandable, parents want to be reassured, and knowledgeable about the safety of the COVID vaccine. And every parent wants what’s best for their kids.

Dr. Jared Bullard and family

Parents frequently ask questions about the speed with which the COVID vaccine was developed and whether the vaccine will change the genetics of their children. I regularly reassure parents, along with my own friends and family, that the COVID vaccine is safe and that it cannot change your children’s genes. I know that the critical tests required for any vaccine were conducted for the COVID vaccines and they have been found to be safe. Pfizer, and recently Moderna, were approved by Health Canada for children aged 12 to 17. For young children under 12, as a group their physiology is quite different and it’s important that additional time is taken for tests and studies to be completed to ensure the proper dosage is found and that side effects are minimal. The COVID vaccine is probably one of the most studied vaccines we’ve ever had. I also remind parents that I’m vaccinated, and those eligible within my family are as well. I think it says something too, that 99% of Manitoba’s doctors are immunized.  

My 14 year-old daughter was quite excited to get her vaccine. She had a really genuine sense of community when she talked about getting vaccinated. She wanted to feel comfortable interacting with her grandparents, and her aunts and uncles (who also are all fully vaccinated). It’s so true that while youth don’t tend to be as seriously affected by the disease themselves, they can transmit the disease to others who are at risk and I’m proud that my daughter was thinking about the safety of others when she got her vaccine. Having our youth and children immunized is an important step in achieving herd immunity for our community.

I’m hopeful that COVID, like pertussis, rubella and the measles, will become a far less serious disease thanks to vaccination. I’d love for us to have the luxury of forgetting about COVID, like other seldom-seen diseases, though I also realize we will have to learn to live with this disease. And so, as we’re returning to school, and parents are provided with information about in-school immunization programs (which were delayed due to COVID), that we ensure we’re getting accurate information, so we can make the best choices for our children. 

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Dr. Jared Bullard is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Manitoba who works primarily out of the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg. Dr. Bullard is also an Associate Medical Director at the Cadham Provincial Lab in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

As an infectious disease expert, pediatrician, public health virologist and a father of two children aged 14 and 11, I’ve been uniquely positioned to offer advice over the past year as the new COVID vaccine was introduced in Manitoba.  In my practice as a pediatrician I’m used to explaining the need for regular immunizations for […]

Additional Resources

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