“Being on the frontline gave me a different perspective on the pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system. I could not allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities to play the sport that I love. If I was going to take any risk, I wanted to do it by caring for patients.”
Last year, Canadian NFL player Laurent Duvernay-Tardif made headlines when he chose to opt out of the upcoming football season, deciding instead to help fight COVID-19 in long-term care (LTC).
At the time, Quebec’s LTC homes were overburdened by the pandemic and residents were dying.
Although at a high point in his career, as an offensive lineman with the Super Bowl winning Kansas City Chiefs, Duvernay-Tardif has no regrets about hanging up his football jersey in 2020 to help.
“It was the right choice for me because I knew I wanted to be a part of the solution.”
A turning point on the front lines
Working as an orderly, in a LTC home just outside Montreal, he quickly saw the impacts of COVID-19 firsthand. “The first wave of the pandemic was devastating for Canada’s seniors,” he said.
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 70% of all COVID-19 deaths in Quebec in the spring of 2020 happened in LTC.
Duvernay-Tardif, who earned his medical degree from McGill University in 2018, says the COVID-19 vaccines were a gamechanger for long-term care homes.
“Seeing seniors get vaccinated gave me hope,” he said, “we didn’t see the same devastation in the second and third waves of the pandemic.”
So when it was his chance to step up and get his first dose in January, he didn’t miss his shot.
His message to anyone who’s on the fence: “When it’s your turn to roll up your sleeve, don’t miss your chance. Protect yourself, protect others.”
“I saw the impact the vaccines had in long-term care and that was all the proof I needed. I’m confident it will help me get back to the things I love safely, like playing football and seeing my family.”
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