Shaun and Stephanie Jeffrey booked vaccine appointments as soon as they became eligible at a medical clinic not far from their home. “We found a clinic with available vaccines on the vaccine-finding website from the province of Manitoba,” says Shaun. After their AstraZeneca shots, both had trouble sleeping that night because of chills and feeling unwell. Then their side effects diverged. “I felt fine after a cup of coffee the next morning,” says Stephanie. Shaun had a fever for two days, and it took him five days to feel completely normal, although he was able to work throughout the period.
The couple both represent industries heavily affected by COVID, restaurants and fitness, and they want to set a good example by stepping up to get their vaccinations.
Shaun Jeffrey is the executive director and CEO of the Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association, and his love for restaurants is both professional and personal. “Getting the vaccine will help us to move forward. Our association members, restaurant owners, their employees—we need to be proactive with what we preach.”
Shaun thinks it was helpful that the province included restaurant workers in priority hotspots for vaccination. “When vaccine eligibility opens up, we send that information to our members. Many restaurant owners want to be vaccinated. It helps to show that you’re protecting your staff.”
Stephanie Jeffrey is the executive director of the Manitoba Fitness Council, representing gyms, studios and fitness instructors. She points out that gyms are very important for people’s physical and mental health, and not all exercise can be done at home: “I teach aquatic fitness. Many of the women in the class are seniors and have joint issues. There’s a reason they’re in a pool in the first place, because they can’t exercise any other way. Normally there’s a lot of endorphins released in the class from exercise and socialization, and then maybe they would go for coffee after a class.”
Both Shaun and Stephanie hope vaccination can lead Manitobans back to a more normal life. “We need to get to a space where we can get together and have our lives back. We need to not feel guilty when we go to visit our parents,” says Stephanie.
During the pandemic, the two sports buffs haven’t been able to use their season tickets for the Blue Bombers, or go to baseball, soccer or Jets games. Shaun has missed playing in his year-round men’s football league with the same guys he has played with for years. They’ve also missed family events during the pandemic, including funerals: “I wasn’t able to attend two funerals for family members this year. That was a significant factor in my decision to get vaccinated. Those people deserved their due, after 50, 60, 70 years of living a full life. It felt awful to not be able to show them that respect,” says Shaun.
Shaun says, “I know it sounds a bit cliché to say ‘we’re all in this together,’ but really, we are all in this together. We need to work together. Vaccination won’t work, we won’t beat this thing, if only 50% of us are vaccinated. We all want to get our personal lives back. We want to get our restaurants and businesses up and running full steam – the only way we can do that is if we step up and get vaccinated!”