First round of vaccines completed by public health

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Ten new COVID-19 cases were reported in the Southwestern Public Health region on Monday, but for most of the past week it has been single-digit increases.

During a Jan. 27 conference call, medical officer of health Dr. Joyce Lock noted they had a single-digit increase in new cases across the region, 52 recoveries, and no additional fatalities.

She noted that six out 16 long-term care facilities in Oxford-Elgin and six out of 18 retirement homes had active outbreaks.

“Today (Jan. 27) I’m happy to share some encouraging news,” said Lock. “We have now completed the first round of vaccination of all eligible long-term care home residents in Southwestern Public Health region. We can confirm that more than 1,100 residents have received their first dose of the vaccine.”

The first dose was delivered on Jan. 12 to three facilities including Maple Manor in Tillsonburg. The last dose of the first round was administered Jan. 25.

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“I am incredibly proud of the individuals and organizations who worked in partnership to protect our most vulnerable population and to get this job done in such an expeditious manner.”

“A massive amount of work and marathon days made this achievement possible by both our own team and long-term care home administration,” said Jaime Fletcher in a media release.

Fletcher is leading the immunization work in the Southwestern Public Health region as manager of its COVID-19 Mass Immunization Taskforce.

“Doses in arms brought joy, tears and hope to the residents, staff, and families of the homes our mobile teams visited. This is a very hopeful moment in this pandemic for our communities. We will work diligently, despite supply and logistics challenges, to continue this positive momentum as we move into the next stage of this journey.”

All other individuals who have received a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine are eligible for their second dose within 42 days, which is still within the timeline outlined by Health Canada for full effectiveness.

“Studies have shown that even receiving one dose of the vaccine provides protection from symptoms of COVID-19, while the second dose ensures a robust immune response.”

The next priority group to be sequenced in Ontario’s strategy are residents in high-risk retirement homes.

“That is in the works to be completed before too long… it is actively being done,” said Lock. “Then after that, for all the residual retirement homes, we’re still waiting to see what allocation of vaccine we will be getting and when we will be getting that.”

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If an employee at any work setting tests positive, Lock said the health unit investigates the close contacts, and then determines who needs to be further isolated or tested.

In response to questions about COVID-19 variants, Dr. Lock said none had been detected in Oxford-Elgin as of last week.

“I say this with caution as I do not want anyone to assume they are not at risk for this variant or that it isn’t here. People still need to ensure they use the right COVID defensive behaviours we have talked about so much.

“This has been a long year, and we are all ready to see the end of this pandemic. Vaccinations are a step in the right direction,” Lock summed up. “It is important that we all work together to keep each other healthy until we realize the benefits of this immunization program. Until then, keep up with the measures that are protecting your health and that of your loved ones.”

There were 166 active COVID cases in Oxford-Elgin as of Monday, including 17 in Tillsonburg, down by 43 since last week. Woodstock had 58 cases.

The Tillsonburg COVID-19 assessment centre tested 184 people last week.

cabbott@postmedia.com

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