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Construction workers prioritized locally for COVID-19 vaccine

Following a large outbreak at a local construction site this week, KFL&A Public Health is now prioritizing the vaccination of construction workers. The outbreak, detected at the site of a retirement home being constructed near Princess St and Midland Ave, has grown to 34 known cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, May 5, 2021, making it the largest cluster of cases yet in the region.

“Locally, transmission of COVID-19 at construction sites has been a concern,” said KFL&A Public Health in a memo to local construction companies. “As such, a local decision has been made to prioritize construction workers for immediate eligibility to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments.”

“The main message is that we are trying to mitigate illness and potential spread in this sector due to our recent large outbreak,” said KFL&A Public Health in an email to Kingstonist. According to KFL&A Public Health, the initiative is being put in place in the context of increasing vaccine supply to the area, together with the plan that anyone 18 years and older should be able to receive a vaccine by the end of May, according to the provincial timelines.

Vaccinations for these workers will be made available at clinics being held at various locations in Kingston, including the INVISTA Centre, Memorial Centre, Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), the Kingston Community Health Centre (KCHC), as well as the Strathcona Paper Centre (SPC) in Greater Napanee. Most vaccines currently being administered at these locations are manufactured by Pfizer, according to KFL&A Public Health, though that may change as the region receives supplies from various vaccine manufacturers.

An online booking tool and instructions have been shared with local construction companies to disseminate to eligible workers. Workers are asked to bring proof of employment to their appointment, which may include a staff ID or a paystub.

KFL&A Public Health identified construction workers as a priority group due to an elevated risk in Kingston with trade workers coming from other areas, both inside and outside of the province. Construction in Kingston “is a large workforce who work on the front line with many other people,” said KFL&A Public Health, “and that can easily escalate the total active cases in the area.”

The targeted approach will limit the strain on local health care resources, said KFL&A Public Health. Variants of concern were detected in the cases involved in the construction site outbreak, said KFL&A Public Health, which are now known to result in more rapid transmission in various age groups, and the virus spreads quickly in households. KFL&A Public Health said that, in conjunction with the prioritized vaccination program, it will also be initiating an asymptomatic testing strategy for local construction companies and projects.

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