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Public Health: downtown, rural and mobile vaccination clinics in the works

Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington Public Health’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said he wants to be able to administer 10,000 COVID-19 vaccines per day in the Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health region.

“I think we could achieve that,” Dr. Moore said on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. “I’m trying to get to 10,000 a day. If we ever receive that amount of vaccine I want to make sure we could rapidly have it distributed into arms. I want to have that capacity given that we may have approval of other vaccines.”

Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson have promising vaccine candidates potentially coming down the pipe, Dr. Moore noted, which could increase the supply into Ontario later this year.

For now, plans are in place to administer at least 3,000 doses per day, using the two vaccines that have been approved by Health Canada — Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna. Each requires two doses, three to four weeks apart, to be fully effective.

So far Canada’s vaccine rollout has faced setbacks as manufacturers have announced delays and reductions in shipments into the country. Ontario is reportedly scheduled to receive 47,400 doses of Moderna and 186,030 doses of Pfizer in the last week of February. The federal government announced this week that supply is anticipated to ramp up, and projected that 14.5 million Canadians could be vaccinated by the end of June.

“I want to make sure that we’re ready as a community to be able to respond as vaccines become available,” Dr. Moore said.

‘Equity, Accessibility’ cornerstones of local vaccination plan

Plans for inoculation in KFL&A include the establishment of two fixed, mass-vaccination clinics at INVISTA Centre in Kingston and Strathcona Paper Centre in Napanee, which could process up to 2,000 and 1,000 shots per day, respectively.

“We will set up fridges at the INVISTA centre and will be able to store vaccine there, whether its Moderna or Pfizer, with appropriate security and monitoring of the cold chain,” Dr. Moore said.

“Once thawed, there are different days that they can be kept in the fridge — two to eight days, for limited amounts of time. We’re very used to monitoring fridge temperatures remotely, back up security, back up power, and have that in play.”

Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) is also planning to open a vaccination clinic downtown, he said.

“They will maintain an immunization centre not only for their workers but also will move to provide community vaccine. Once they’ve immunized all their workers — and they have over 5,000 workers to immunize — they’ll be able to move on to other community priorities.”

He said that KHSC may continue to use the Beechgrove facility, where Kingston’s COVID-19 assessment centre currently operates. “There will be less and less need for assessment, hopefully, as our cases go down. They may move to half-day immunizing in the morning and then a half-day assessing individuals in the afternoon. That’s flexible and it’s certainly not firm yet. But we do intend to have a downtown immunization location.”

Additionally, KFL&A Public Health will operate mobile teams for serving what he described as “high-risk settings.”

“We are discussing with the City even using a bus to be able to move from high-risk setting to high-risk setting if necessary, to move teams, and have a fridge built in. All these strategies are on the go,” he said.

Dr. Moore said Public Health is partnering with Kingston Community Health Centre (KCHC) to serve communities in the city’s north end. They’re also coordinating with partners in Verona, Cloyne, Sharbot Lake and Sydenham to distribute vaccines into the northern regions of KFL&A.

While not yet approved by the province, he thinks drive-through vaccination clinics could also be viable. “That’s safe, effective and we have experience with it,” he said.

“Hopefully, over time, we’ll have our primary care providers and our pharmacies providing vaccine,” he added. “Those details have yet to be given the green light by the Ministry.”

“We do have a large region. It’s my job as the one who is coordinating the response to make sure that we do it equitably. It has to be accessible, it has to be available, so that’s extra work on our end but it’s absolutely essential.”

As far as achieving that 10,000 doses per day goal, Dr. Moore said staffing would not be an issue.

“We’ve had commitment from all of our partners that we will make that happen,” Dr. Moore said. “We are in a very fortunate position. We have a medical school and two nursing schools that we can call upon for additional resources, if required. We also have been very grateful for those members of our community who are retired healthcare professionals who have stepped up.”

Supply will be the limiting factor, he said, rather than people power. “It really will be about the vaccine getting to us. We’ve had such a great community response and willingness to help.”

KFL&A Vaccination so far

The KFL&A region is currently in Phase 1 of the provincial vaccination framework. This prioritizes residents, staff, and essential caregivers of long-term care, high-risk retirement homes, and First Nations elder care homes.

So far, 2,329 first doses of vaccine and 305 second doses have been administered in KFL&A, in those high-risk settings. About 93 per cent of people offered the vaccine so far have taken it, he said.

Dr. Moore said eligibility criteria is still being finalized by the province for the next two phases of vaccine rollout. Mass vaccination of the general public will not occur until Phase 3, projected to begin later in the spring or summer.

The Ontario government is expected to launch an online portal where people can schedule their vaccinations in the coming months. Dr. Moore said Public Health will make an announcement when that portal comes online.

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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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