KFL&A Public Health joins regional taskforce as COVID-19 vaccine hits Ontario

Kingstonist file photo

The first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Ontario on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, with 6,000 doses delivered to Toronto and Ottawa. According to the provincial government, it will still be a several months before vaccinations begin in Kingston.

“We have been notified that the highest priority areas are those that are in Lockdown, and then it will be those that are in the Red zone,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addingon (KFL&A) Public Health on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. The doctor was referencing Ontario’s five tier, colour-coded system of COVID-19 public health restrictions.

“So, we anticipate Kingston, given that our longterm care facilities have been relatively safe compared to the rest of the province, and our relatively low counts, we’ll be mid-to-lower in the priority risk. We haven’t been given any firm date of when our hospital, Kingston Health Sciences Centre, will receive the vaccine,” he noted.

According to the provincial government’s statement on vaccine rollout, Phase One of the Ontario vaccination plan includes administering 90,000 expected Pfizer-BioNTech doses to 14 hospital sites in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones in December. Each individual needs two doses, about three weeks apart for the vaccine to be effective.

Healthcare wokers in hospitals, longterm care homes, retirement homes and other congregate settings for seniors will receive the first doses.

Between 35,000 and 85,000 of the Moderna vaccine, once approved, are also expected to expand vaccinations in longterm care homes in the Grey-Lockdown areas.

The province expects that by the end of January 2021, over 20 hospitals across the province will be adminstering the Pfizer vaccine. Bolstering capacity with the Moderna vaccine, immunizations will expand to adults in First Nations, Metis and Indigenous populations, they said.

“When an increased stockpile of vaccines becomes available to Ontario, the province will shift to Phase Two of its vaccination implementation plan, which is expected to begin later in the winter of 2021,” their statement says.

“During Phase Two, vaccinations will be administered to health care workers, as well as to residents in long-term care homes and retirement homes, to home care patients with chronic conditions and to additional First Nation communities and urban Indigenous populations, including Métis and Inuit adults,” the province said.

KFL&A Public Health part of regional ‘Vaccine Taskforce’

Ontario will enter Phase Three when vaccines are available to anyone who wishes to be immunized. “While vaccines will not be mandated, during Phase Three, people will be strongly encouraged to get vaccinated,” the province said.

Dr. Moore said three regional Public Health agencies have entered into a ‘taskforce’ — KFL&A Public Health, Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit, and Hastings & Prince Edward Public Health.

He said the taskforce will involve Public Health “working together with all of our hospital partners, our longterm care partners and our primary care providers.”

“We’re going to be ready if and when the vaccine arrives to be able to store it safely and distribute it quickly and efficiently according to the priorities that the government tells us,” he said.

Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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