The first COVID-19 vaccines for front-line workers are being administered at new clinics in Chatham-Kent and Sarnia.
Rick Walker, maintenance supervisor at Riverview Gardens Long Term Care in Chatham, was the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the new clinic when it opened on Tuesday.
His shot was given by the municipality's medical officer of health Dr. David Colby.
The clinic, located at the John D. Bradley Convention Centre in Chatham, is a 25,000-square foot space with 10 vaccination bays.
It's staffed by a group of health-care professionals including workers from Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) and Chatham-Kent EMS.
Staff and essential caregivers at long-term care and high-risk retirement homes are currently eligible to receive a first dose of the vaccine.
Lori Marshall, CEO of CKHA, said on Monday that about 300 people will be vaccinated on the first day.
"The individuals who are being done this week are being specifically contacted through the various organizations that they either work with or that they're a caregiver of a long-term care or retirement home resident with," she said.
Workers at the site can deliver about 60 shots an hour — or 420 a day, which the facility says will ramp up in the coming weeks as more vaccine supply is received.
"As long as we have vaccine product, we'll be open seven days a week," Willi Kirenko, the manager of the clinic, said Monday.
Chatham-Kent's first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine was received Monday, and additional supply is expected in March. The other vaccine approved for use in Canada, made by Moderna, is being used to vaccinate residents in long-term care and retirement homes.
Sarnia clinic to operate for 4-5 days
Sarnia, which was one of the last areas of the province to receive a supply of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, also started administering shots for health-care workers at a new clinic on Tuesday.
The clinic at Bluewater Health is open only to the highest risk health-care workers. There are over 2,000 people on staff at Bluewater Health, and the clinic will be operating for four or five days until supplies run out, according to a news release.
The first employee to receive the shot in Sarnia, a 63-year-old emergency department nurse, said it was an honour.
"It's a start to keeping my family, my colleagues, and my community safe," Fred Osmon said in the news release.
"The pandemic has been a significant strain on all healthcare workers, and I know that we are excited to see the vaccines rolling out here. There is light at the end of the tunnel."