Southwestern Public Health has accomplished a key milestone in its COVID-19 immunizations strategy with the successful completion of first doses for all eligible long-term care home residents in the region.
Over a three-week period that began January 12, more than 1,100 of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were administered with the support of long-term care home staff and administrators, and the COVID-19 Immunizations Task Force at Southwestern Public Health.
The health unit partnered with Oxford County Paramedic Services and Medavie EMS service to administer vaccines.
“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.”
Under Phase One of Ontario’s COVID-19 immunization plan, long-term care staff and residents were prioritized as our most vulnerable individuals to receive vaccinations. In January, Ontario provided notice to regional health units about a projected shortage in vaccine supply due to Pfizer’s expansion of its European facility.
The Ministry of Health has since worked with regional health units to redistribute and prioritize the limited provincial supply to residents in long-term care. Second doses are scheduled for between 21-27 days for residents.
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.
The next priority group to be sequenced in Ontario’s strategy are residents in high-risk retirement homes. First dose vaccinations began for this population on Jan. 26 in the Southwestern Public Health region.
“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,” said Dr. Joyce Lock, Medical Officer of Health. “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.”