Another mass vaccination clinic will take place in Sudbury this week as Public Health Sudbury and District (PHSD) continues to provide COVID-19 vaccines to as many residents as possible.
PHSD held its first mass vaccination clinic last week for roughly 2,500 health-care workers and essential caregivers connected with long-term care homes and retirement homes.
It took place at the Carmichael Arena on Bancroft Drive on Thursday and Friday.
As we turned the corner on March 1 this week, it was revealed that PHSD will be holding another mass vaccination event; this time for urban Indigenous people in Sudbury, aged 55 and older on March 5 and March 6, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
It will also take place at Carmichael Arena.
The event is jointly hosted by the Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre in partnership with Public Health Sudbury & Districts (PHSD) and the City of Greater Sudbury, along with the support of the Ngo Dwe Waanzizjik – The Urban Indigenous Sacred Circle and the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council.
The Indigenous population has been identified as a priority in the first round of vaccination allocations said a news release from Shkagamik-Kwe.
PHSD has published a COVID-19 Vaccination Program Playbook that outlines when Sudbury area residents can expect to receive vaccinations.
The playbook was published in January and PHSD said the information in it is evolving and changing. Ontario is still in Phase 1 on the vaccine rollout and the PHSD book indicates the first week of March is the time to provide vaccines to on-reserve Indigenous people aged 16 and older (estimated 835) and to urban Indigenous aged 16 and older (estimated 1,000).
Also this week, PHSD is scheduled to continue providing vaccines to health-care workers and to adult chronic home-care recipients. The total would be 5,400 people for the first week.
Based on the playbook numbers, the vaccinations for the on-reserve and urban Indigenous populations are scheduled to continue next week, for an estimated 5,400 people. Based on the PHSD statement, that schedule could change.
But the schedule does show ramping up the vaccine schedule, again for urban Indigenous populations in the Sudbury area for the weeks of March 15, March 22, April 5 and again on April 12 — in all cases the target is 5,400 vaccinations for each week.
When Sudbury.com asked PHSD to confirm the schedule. The reply was that the schedule could change.
"The information you are inquiring about is currently being reviewed and updated," said PHSD.
Another factor to be considered is that PHSD will need to provide second doses for the COVID-19 vaccines. Both Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are double-dose medications. Even the new AstraZeneca vaccine is recommended for two doses. The first vaccines administered in the PHSD jurisdiction were on Jan. 13.
Once the Indigenous population is looked after, Ontario will be into Phase 2 of the vaccination plan.
At that point, toward the third week of April, the plan is to provide vaccines for individuals identified as essential workers.
This issue has not yet been fully defined as many worker organizations across Ontario have reported they have not yet been advised if they are essential. Officials of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Canada spoke out in news reports in Toronto this week to say they believe frontline grocery workers for example should be included because they are exposed to so many members of the public.
That essential worker campaign is expected to last until the end of May.
Next in line on the PHSD schedule are adults 75 years and older. The plan is to provide those vaccinations from the week of May 31 to the week of July 5.
Following that, the PHSD schedule said adults aged 60 to 74 years will get vaccines. This will be for the week of June 14, and then picked up again on the week of July 5 to the week of Aug. 23.
Finally, beginning the week of September 6, vaccines will be offered to the general population aged 16 to 59 years. That campaign will continue on and off in the weeks of Sept. 27, Oct. 4 and Oct. 25.
Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com, covering health care in Northern Ontario. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the federal government.
Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com