EDMONTON -- As Canada approaches the grim milestone of 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, one of the first Canadians to be vaccinated says she views the vaccine as an invitation to step up and make a difference in the fight to end the pandemic.

Colette Cameron, a registered nurse and executive director of a Toronto-area long-term care home, admits that although there was some initial hesitation amongst her staff about the side effects of the vaccine, she feels “perfectly fine” after receiving the first dose earlier this week.

“I’m feeling perfectly fine, there were no adverse reactions at all,” Cameron told CTV’s Your Morning Friday.

“Really it was an invitation to step up and make a difference and I’m so thrilled to be able to do that.”

Cameron and several colleagues were among the first in Canada to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which requires two doses several weeks apart. Cameron is scheduled to receive her second dose on Jan. 4.

Health-care workers, long-term care residents and their caregivers will be among the first to receive the vaccine.

“Last Friday, when we were asked to participate, I went around and talked to my staff and many of them were quite hesitant. They wanted to wait and see how other people reacted,” Cameron explained.

“After the first day, they were lining up. They all wanted to get the vaccine because they had seen there were no real side effects and they’re invested in making sure their residents are protected.”

But Cameron’s colleagues aren’t the first to voice concerns or hesitations about the vaccine. Months ago it seemed unlikely that a vaccine for COVID-19 would reach final trial stages by December, let alone the arms of Canadians, leaving some hesitant about the safety or effectiveness of the vaccine.

Cameron says she is putting her trust in Health Canada’s approval process in an effort to do the right thing for her residents and play a role in curbing the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of fear mongering going on and usually it’s from people who aren’t experts in the field. I’m putting my trust in Health Canada. They don’t approve vaccines without a lot of scientific data and evidence to back it,” she said.

“It’s just a small thing we can do help end this pandemic and I don’t see anything else on the horizon to solve the COVID virus problem. I think the more people that do this, the sooner we’ll be out of the pandemic.”​