Ryan Youngson, Firefighter Primary Care Paramedic, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service

Ryan Youngson, Firefighter Primary Care Paramedic, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service

I’m a firefighter and primary care paramedic. We get sent out to help people who are sick and injured, and to provide medical aid, including those who are COVID-positive. I’m someone who doesn’t usually stress about many things, but at work I am glad that we can rely on PPE to protect ourselves. We’ve been provided with adequate amounts of equipment like eye guards, medical gowns, respirators, and we have detailed protocols on how to decontaminate ourselves after a call.

As soon as I was eligible I got vaccinated. For me, getting the vaccine was important, because it’s not just about protecting myself or my family, I need to protect the patients I see on the job. Interestingly though, I’m one of the rare people who contracted COVID after I got my first vaccine. But I got COVID within the two week time frame when your body is still building immunity. When I was home quarantining with COVID, I was glad to have the one dose in me. Maybe that dose helped me avoid having more severe symptoms, and I’m looking forward to getting my second dose.

Having COVID caused a lot of stress and anxiety for my wife and two young daughters. That wasn’t a good feeling! Because I had COVID, my whole family had to quarantine. My daughters were pulled out of school and my wife had to work from home. I lived in the basement while they lived on the main floor of our house. I really feel for people who don’t have the space in their home to be able to separate living quarters like that. 

For people who aren’t sure if they want to get vaccinated, I would ask people to weigh the risks versus the benefits of the vaccine. It’s true we don’t know the long-term consequences of the vaccine, but we’re sure of the short-term consequences of COVID, which are hospitals filled with people on ventilators and people dying.

Once Manitobans have had the vaccine, we should remember the people who were not able to get the vaccine in time, who lost their lives in this pandemic. All of us getting the vaccine will help our lives return to normal. I look forward to that day so that I can travel again. My wife’s family is from Europe, so we would like to go there. I want my kids to return to their music lessons and be able to see their friends from school. I look forward to going out for drinks with friends and having barbeques in the backyard.

Now is the time to get vaccinated. And if you’re unsure, talk to your doctor, get advice from someone who knows you and has your best interests at heart.

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Additional Resources

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