Gerry Thiessen (left) with his spouse Lesley is encouraging others to sign up to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Both have recently received their first shot. (Photo submitted)

Gerry Thiessen (left) with his spouse Lesley is encouraging others to sign up to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Both have recently received their first shot. (Photo submitted)

Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen encourages others to get vaccinated

“If not for yourself, please do it for others in our community.”

The Mayor of Vanderhoof believes vaccines could help the northern community reach herd immunity.

Vaccinations are set to continue this week at the Nechako Senior Friendship Centre for anyone 18 and older who has registered.

Gerry Thiessen said the disease has had a significant impact on seniors and children in Vanderhoof. However, he said, its fortunate that the community didn’t experience any large outbreaks.

“We pleaded with Northern Health, and they heard us, so we’re the largest of the communities they’re doing mass vaccination for,” he said.

“So for us, I think organized activities and sports will be so important to get back to normal, and for seniors, my heart aches for them as they have really struggled in interaction with others.”

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Thiessen and his wife, Lesley, received their first shot more than two weeks ago. Both are considered at increased risk for more serious illness being age 65 or older.

Thiessen will soon turn 68, and Lesley is one year younger than him.

“To us, it was incredibly important for the health of our grandchildren and great-grandchildren but also my aunts and uncles,” he said.

“They need to see me on a regular basis—they need to be able to interact and enjoy an evening.”

After receiving their Moderna vaccine, Thiessen said he felt a sense of “brightness”, and said while both him and his wife still can’t do everything they could before the pandemic began, it is the first of many days of improvement they are looking forward to.

“We’ve gone through 14 long months,” he said calling the vaccinations an opportunity to eventually return to as much activity as possible.

“The verse that goes – love thy neighbours as thyself – this is the time we need to show it as a community.”

As of Friday, April 30, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister, Adrian Dix said nearly 40% of eligible people in B.C. have received their first COVID-19 vaccination.

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More than 129,000 positive cases have been confirmed across the province.

With the COVID-19 vaccination program continuing to aim to protect as many people as possible and address hot spots and reduce transmission, individuals such as Thiessen are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel from a disease that will likely never be forgotten.

“You can just imagine what life was like then,” he said of the world recession in the early 1980s in which he worked as a real estate agent, and interest rates skyrocketed as high as 21 per cent.

“You just felt that the world was never going to be normal again, and slowly bit by bit it came back and so that’s my hope with this is that it will come back and that the people of Vanderhoof will always remember this time and remember it with thankfulness.”

Thiessen said he will never again take the opportunity to watch his grandchildren play hockey for granted, or the chance to dine-in at a restaurant with his wife, and have friends to sit around with and enjoy conversation.

To help further spread the message vaccines are safe, Thiessen is participating in the #ThisIsOurShot campaign and has already ordered its trademark t-shirt that has been proudly worn by famous Canadians such as Hayley Wickenheiser, Ryan Reynolds, Chris Hadfield and Michael Bublé.

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