Cobden -- Chelsea Vanceeder is grateful for a children’s vaccination clinic that was held in Cobden October 16 and that another is being held November 16, also in Cobden.
It means she doesn’t have to travel to her family physician eight hours away in Sault Ste. Marie after moving to the Whitewater Region area.
While she does have a family physician, waiting weeks or months for an appointment is just not acceptable, she said.
“The health care in Ontario is the worst,” she said, while waiting for her daughter Georgie to get vaccinated. “Good thing there’s public health.”
The Renfrew County District Public Health Unit, in partnership with Rainbow Valley Community Health Centre in Killaloe and ConnectWell Community Health Centre in Beachburg, is hosting three Kids Come First vaccination centres in Cobden.
Two of the three clinics have been held, with the final one scheduled for November 16 at the Cobden Agricultural Hall from 2 to 6 p.m.
It’s believed that following the COVID-19 pandemic, there are children, aged zero to 17 years, who have not been able to keep up with their vaccinations, said Cathy Tubby, Nursing and Administrative Supervisor at ConnectWell in Beachburg.
Registered Nurse Shirley Hill, with Rainbow Valley, said the program is an initiative of Kids Come First Health Team and CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario).
“CHEO was finding out that some children are behind on their vaccinations,” she said.
These clinics are for any children between zero to 17 years, she said.
“We are not saying no to any children,” Ms. Hill said.
Vicky Baril, a public health nurse with the local health unit, noted it’s important children get their vaccinations when required. There is an Ontario’s Immunization Schedule for children aged two months to 16 years. Reviewing the schedule, it shows immunizations are required at various months, including at two, four, six, 12, 15 and 18 followed by three more between the ages of four and 16 years.
There are various reasons for falling behind, she said. These could include not being able to get an appointment in the proper amount of time due to COVID or just not having a family doctor.
The health unit does have a Healthy Family Healthy Children program, but not everyone may be aware of it. These programs are held in Pembroke, Arnrpior and Barry’s Bay areas, and there is hope of opening more throughout the county, Ms. Baril said.
Ms. Hill said all health units are running similar vaccination clinics throughout Ontario.
As students returned to school following the pandemic, that’s when it was discovered some children were not up to date, Ms. Baril said. In order to attend school, “students have to be up-to-date and if they aren’t, parents are sent a notice they must get their children vaccinated….”
Taylor Roberts, holding tightly to her wiggly 17-month-old son Benjamin, said she tried to make an appointment at the health unit, but was never able to reach anyone. When she discovered this clinic online, she and her husband Jordan Wiebe, who was holding twin Charles, decided to drive from Petawawa to Cobden.
“We want to keep them on schedule with their vaccinations,” she said. “A booster is needed at 18 months, so we’re here for that.”
Ms. Vanceeder said with her recent move to the area, she will get onto the waiting list for a doctor, and until then, the clinic is a great opportunity to get her children vaccinated. While she was hopeful of getting daughters Everly and Georgie vaccinated, that didn’t happen.
Georgie was able to get her vaccination, but “Everly isn’t old enough yet to get hers,” Ms. Vanceeder said, noting she’s just a few weeks shy of her fourth birthday, but the November clinic fits in nicely.
While it’s not imperative an appointment be booked, if parents want to book an appointment, go to kidscomefirst.ca/vaccines.
In a release from CHEO, it was noted that children in the Ottawa area have missed about 40,000 doses of vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio, tetanus and whooping cough.
“During the pandemic, CHEO experienced the first chicken pox outbreak in recent memory,” said Alex Munter, CHEO President and CEO. “With the help of the Kids Come First partners, we hope families who don’t have access to a health provider can easily get their children up to date on their routine vaccines, which is so important in protecting their health.”
Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader