Beth Berlin has worked in Burns Lake and the communities surrounding it for nearly two decades, and when the former community nurse was approached this spring about helping her region fight back against COVID, it was a no-brainer.
“I feel there is nothing better I could be doing with my time than helping to protect them from COVID-19 by delivering the vaccine,” Berlin says in a new article from Northern Health.
Berlin is a Northern Health Nurse Practitioner who has been helping support the vaccine roll-out in her area. “I’ve been involved in the planning work from day one,” she says.
Berlin’s background in the community has allowed her to address specific concerns that people have regarding potential side-effects. “They often have questions about their health issues and how those tie in with vaccine safety, so knowing their medical history is such an advantage,” Berlin explains.
Early on, Berlin was approached by Lake Babine Nation to assist with getting the vaccine into people’s arms in Woyenne, Tachet, and Fort Babine. Being able to help protect First Nations community members against COVID was especially important, she says, because many of them “have struggled with mental health because of the stress of potentially becoming infected and losing their community due to isolation.”
The change once they’re vaccinated is remarkable. “Multiple Elders have told me they’re getting their vaccine so that they can see their grandkids again soon,” she says. “Others who have been putting off medical travel due to fear of getting the virus are able to prioritize their health care again and finally see an end to the restrictions they’ve been living under.”
Berlin knows there’s lots of work ahead. “People are dying in our community from COVID-19, and those remaining are grieving those losses,” she says.
Joining the vaccine roll-out has given Berlin a sense of agency and purpose. “After so many months of essentially waiting for patients to test positive and deal with the aftermath…What better hope can we give them than this life-saving vaccine?” she says.
To learn more about the vaccine roll-out, be sure to tune into “Fighting COVID in the Skeena – Variants & Vaccines,” a virtual event this Thursday hosted by Skeena Strong, which features local experts answering your questions about how we end the pandemic for good.
To learn more about the event, click here.