KITCHENER -- A personal support worker (PSW) from an Elmira long-term care home received Waterloo Region's first COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday afternoon.

Siham Ibrahim was one of 10 staff from Chartwell Elmira Long-Term Residence to receive the vaccine at Grand River Hospital's immunization clinic. Officials said Monday that the vaccines had arrived at the hospital two days ahead of schedule.

“We extend our gratitude to all levels of government for their expediency in making the vaccine available to the front lines of long-term care,” said Sharon Ranalli, Vice President Marketing and Communications with Chartwell Retirement Residences in a news release. “In today’s first vaccine of a Chartwell employee, and in the days to come as more receive it, the Region of Waterloo is giving all citizens hope that the fight against COVID-19 is achievable and will indeed save lives and protect our residents.”

Region of Waterloo Public Health said vaccinated long-term care staff will continue over the coming weeks. Any surplus vaccine doses from no-shows or cancellations will be given to local hospital staff.

The region's task force said it's working to make sure the vaccine is distributed as quickly as possible.

“This has been a tremendous logistical undertaking to prepare for the vaccine’s arrival and the launch of immunization clinics,” said WRPS Deputy Chief Shirley Hilton. “I can’t think of a better way to welcome the holidays than to begin vaccinations in Waterloo Region. Thank you to the community for your patience. Roll-out of the full vaccination program will take time.”

“The work that has been done over the last week and a half to prepare for the vaccine’s arrival and to begin immunizations is nothing short of remarkable,” said Region of Waterloo Chair Karen Redman. “Thank you to Deputy Chief Hilton and the task force for your incredible leadership and to our partners in the provincial and federal governments for quickly securing and distributing vaccine to support front-line workers in Waterloo Region.”

The region hopes to administer 400 doses of the vaccine a day at the GRH clinic.