As we stay at home, watching the Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination plans roll out, many in the KFL&A region are wondering why other Public Health regions in the province seem to be ahead of us.
Indeed, some Ontario Health Units are taking bookings for vaccinations, while KFL&A awaits more doses of the vaccines and direction from the provincial government. In an attempt to explain why this is happening, Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health for KFL&A Public Health, addressed the matter in a YouTube video published on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021.
He first explained that each of the 34 Public Health Units in Ontario have a plan to immunize their communities, which is dependent on the supply of vaccines. And who receives doses of vaccines first comes down to who needs them more, in accordance with the province’s direction, Moore explained.
“There are some communities in Ontario that have been prioritized due to high risk of infectious disease in their in multiple settings,” he said, noting the Toronto, Peel, York, Winsor and Ottawa regions got a higher amount of the vaccines initially, particularly for their long term care settings and high-risk retirement home settings.
“Because we have remained a low risk area, we weren’t prioritized, but we have started to receive vaccine. The province has given all 34 health units directive to immunize the long term care facility patients first, and then the essential caregivers and workers, so please bear with us,” Moore continued.
“Yes, there’s a limited supply, but we have fulfilled our obligation in our mission to put first doses into the arms of all patients in our long term care facilities, [and] high risk retirement homes.”
Moore explained that the KFL&A region is now moving into the second doses, and “following the provincial directive to a tee, which aligns very nicely with the ethical framework which guides our principles and how we approach this.”
“So please bear in mind, our first priority is long term care and high-risk retirement homes. We have not given the second doses in these settings yet or completed that mission, but we’ve certainly completed the first part of the mission.”
The next phase of this work, taking place in the next week or two, will be to begin vaccinating the region’s highest risk healthcare workers who are actively exposed to COVID-19 patients working in intensive care unit settings, the COVID ward of the hospital and/or the emergency department. They will then move into trying to immunize as many people in the over 80 population in retirement homes as possible, and will be administering those vaccinations directly at the retirement homes. The next phase also includes immunizing all those of the First Nations, Inuit, [and] Metis population, particularly if they have plans of heading north, as well as recipients of home care.
“I don’t want anyone to think that any of the vaccine is staying in a freezer, anywhere in KFLA,” Moore expressed. “We are actively putting needles in arms, increasing the protection of our community and not holding back any doses.”
Moore said that he believes the vaccine supply will increase by Monday, Mar. 15, 2021.
“There will be equitable distribution going forward, across the province and we’ll have a regular supply,” he said.
This will coincide with an online vaccination appointment booking tool, as well as a customer service call centre for those who are unable to use the online tool. Both of those services will be instituted by the Ontario Ministry of Health. Moore once again underlined for those in the KFL&A region that family physicians, pharmacies, nor Public Health are able book residents for their vaccination appointments – that will all be done through the two aforementioned tools created by the Ministry once the local mass immunization clinics are operation.
“I can further explain our mass immunization strategy, but I think it’s quite robust, and we can vaccinate on any given day, without any significant stretch, 7,000 people a day,” said Moore.
“So I think we’ll be able to immunize our community rapidly, once the supply improves.”