Sachit Mehra, General Manager, East India Company

Sachit Mehra, General Manager, East India Company

Getting vaccinated is the most important thing everyone can do right now. It’s fast and easy. Vaccination is extremely important for those of us who have underlying medical conditions or are vulnerable members of our community. But most of all, it’s going to help all of us return to normal. Those are the reasons why I chose to be vaccinated.

My family has been in the restaurant business for 50 years. I am the third generation at the helm of The East India Company. We, as a family, chose to close our Winnipeg location on March 16, 2020, earlier than provincial rules. By virtue of owning two restaurant locations in Ottawa, we saw what was coming in Quebec and Ontario and we wanted to be proactive here in Winnipeg. As is the principle within our own family, the health and safety of our guests and employees is always paramount, so we felt closing the restaurant was the safest thing to do.

Since then, takeout and delivery have sustained the restaurant. We’re fortunate to still be in business and that we didn’t have to lay off a single full-time, permanent staff member. Many of our staff have been with us for decades and we see them as more than just employees; they are family.

Normally, I travel to visit my two brothers, who manage our Ottawa locations, once a month. However, I haven’t been able to do that since the onset of the pandemic. It’s hard to express how difficult it is to be separated from loved ones—I haven’t been able to see my nieces, nephews, sisters-in-law and brothers in person for over a year. But I know many of us understand and share this feeling.

In my personal life, I sit on 11 boards. They’ve all gone virtual. I can honestly say that after the pandemic, I’ll be the first person to uninstall Zoom from my computer! I miss the human connection that comes with in-person meetings.

Our Canadian culture is not defined by takeout and watching Netflix. Our culture is defined by our historical sites, and places where we meet and gather—such as special events at the RBC Convention Centre, or at the new Qaumajuq art gallery, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights—or even a restaurant like mine, where we showcase 400-year-old pieces of art. These are places where people can meet, build relationships and grow.

Restaurants are places where people celebrate, make dates, see friends and family. They are places where people go when they reach a crossroads or mark an accomplishment. I miss those moments—the laughter from a table of friends, the excitement of a child opening a gift at a birthday party, the sweetness between a couple celebrating their anniversary—from our restaurant when we were able to share and celebrate special occasions with our visitors.

If you’re a little hesitant about getting vaccinated, by all means, ask questions. Do the research that you need to do. The vast majority of science points to a healthy, safe vaccination process. I believe vaccination will lead us back to normal life, a life where we celebrate together again.

After COVID, I’m looking forward to shaking somebody’s hand again.  It’s so simple but important. And when things get back to normal, I’m looking forward to enjoying a night out with my family at a restaurant, either mine or another—we have great restaurants in Manitoba, and we can’t wait to serve you again in person!


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.