Grey Bruce top doc lays out plan for three mass-vaccination hubs in region

·2 min read

Mass vaccination hubs will reduce the pressure on the traditional distribution channels in other areas of the region, said Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health for the Grey Bruce Health Unit (GBHU).

GBHU’s vaccine rollout plan includes the creation of three distribution hubs, which are located in Owen Sound, Kincardine and Hanover.

However, concerns were recently raised about the lack of distribution hubs located in the west side of the county.

“We have the oldest part of Grey County here in The Town with the Blue Mountains (TBM),” said TBM Mayor Alar Soever. “I think our average age is 57. There's a huge number of people over 60 here and I haven't seen any plans yet for a mass vaccination clinic in this end of the county.”

Arra explained that the distribution hubs are the first system within the vaccine rollout plan and that other areas of the county would be serviced through the second system or traditional distribution – such as family health teams, pharmacies and other health care providers.

“We would anticipate that these hubs will take pressure off the other system to provide that service,” Arra explained.

He added that the GBHU Vaccine Task Force has also been asked to map out spaces that are available for large clinics in every community throughout Grey and Bruce Counties.

“The other alternative solution is to move parts of the hub to the communities that need them,” he continued. “I do believe that we will be prepared for any scenario that will take place at that time when more vaccines are available.”

Through the province’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, Ontario has announced its plans to move into phase two of the COVID-19 Immunization Program in the spring, which is expected to begin as early March.

“The second phase is directed toward essential workers and that would entail vaccinating first responders, school and municipal staff. Any person who would be considered essential in the context of the emergency,” Arra stated.

Groups eligible to receive vaccines as part of phase two include:

The province has said it is preparing to immunize up to 8.5 million people before the end of the second phase, which is expected to be completed by the end of July.

According to Arra, at this point in time, it is unclear how many vaccine doses will make their way to Grey-Bruce in phase two.

“I believe we have the ability to vaccinate that group in way less time than the three months that the province is projecting,” he added.

To-date, 1,500 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Grey and Bruce Counties.

The health unit is not accepting appointment bookings for vaccines at this time. It currently has a limited supply of vaccines, which are assigned by the province for the phase one priority groups, which include:

Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca