C-K close to Phase 2 of vaccine rollout: Colby

·4 min read

CK Public Health is making sure no vulnerable resident gets left behind as vaccination teams prepare for home visits, according to the top doc.

To date, adults 70-plus, long-term care staff and residents, Indigenous residents, moderate- to high-priority health-care workers, and faith leaders have been eligible for their vaccine.

Vaccine teams have gone to long-term care homes to inoculate its residents, however, Dr. David Colby noted there are other seniors who live at home who cannot make a trip out to the vaccination site housed at the John. D. Bradley Convention Centre.

“We're mobilizing an outreach team within the next few days to be able to vaccinate the eligible housebound. We’ve asked the primary care providers in Chatham-Kent to identify those people for us, make sure they want to get vaccinated, and then we’ll send out a team to vaccinate them,” said Dr. David Colby.

Colby also told reporters that Chatham-Kent is “teetering” on phase 2 rollout which involves immunizing people with specific health risks that might make them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19, caregivers for people with chronic conditions, as well as continuing to count down the eligible age groups in five-year increments.

“We're really working very hard to get that final goal of getting everybody that wants to be vaccinated, vaccinated before the summer,” he said.

Colby said 85 per cent of residents aged 80 and over have opted to get the vaccine so far.

“And if we can keep that up as we move down the age cohorts of eligibility, I will be a very, very happy man indeed,” he said, adding that provincial surveys estimate that only 75 per cent of the population will opt for the vaccine.

Last week Colby noted that only 50 per cent of long-term care staff decided to get vaccinated but predicts that number will increase once they realize that the residents that they care for are not suffering any ill effects from being vaccinated.

Only around three per cent of the population are full-fledged anti-vaccine advocates, according to Colby. He said the majority of people who have chosen not to get vaccinated are hesitant due to the misinformation spread from anti-vaxxers as well as public perception that the vaccines were rushed through the approval process.

He noted that vaccines have been extensively studied and that monitoring continues as the rollout process moves along. In terms of the anti-vaccine rhetoric, he said CK Public Health is focusing on changing the minds of those who are hesitant.

“(Anti-vaxxers) are very vocal, but again, they don't have any scientific credibility because the facts are totally against them. If you want to dream up fables and base your life on them, I guess you can if you want to. But my job is to get vaccines into the arms of those that want vaccines and convince the vaccine hesitancy, that have been misinformed by some of these sentiments that are out there, that it's a great idea not only for their safety but for everybody’s safety.”

As of Thursday’s data, CK Public Health reported a total of 18,907 vaccine doses administered locally.

Colby said the anticipated arrival of the refrigerated vaccines will allow for more pharmacies and doctors offices to inoculate residents and speed the process along.

Ontarians will also be able to get vaccines across jurisdictions.

“If they're eligible, we are not going to turn them away,” Colby said.

He added that there is expected to be a “give and take” across municipal borders and that the Ministry of Health has promised to make up any shortfalls in supply of vaccines that occur as a result of people moving across borders.

“This is not about circling the wagons and making sure that only Chatham-Kent people are beneficiaries. We want everybody in Ontario to get vaccinated,” Colby said.

Chatham-Kent has 104 active cases of COVID-19 after reporting eight resolved cases and four new ones on Thursday morning. Two individuals are hospitalized with the virus.

Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice