Half of long-term care workers in C-K vaccinated against COVID-19

·3 min read

According to the region’s top doctor, approximately half of Chatham-Kent’s long-term care workers have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Dr. David Colby, Medical Officer of Health for Chatham-Kent, said approximately half of Chatham-Kent’s long-term care home workers have so far declined to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Colby added they’ve all had the chance to receive their first dose during Phase 1 of Ontario’s vaccine rollout.

“The uptake in long-term care workers is a lot less than what I would have hoped for,” said Colby, “It’s around 50 percent the last time I looked. I’m really hoping that that number will go up substantially.”

Colby said he’ has done his best to dispel any rumours or worries that the vaccines that Health Canada has approved are unsafe or untested because they’re “very safe and thoroughly tested”.

Colby said people become more hesitant to take the vaccine anytime there’s news about adverse effects such as blood clot issues surrounding AstraZeneca. He added people who were vaccinated with AstraZeneca had no higher risk of getting blood clots than the general population.

“I’m hoping the long-term care workers realize the people who they’re looking after that are vaccinated are doing very well and are healthy and happy, and they decide they’re going to get it as a result,” said Colby.

Colby has repeatedly touted the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines being given in Canada.

“In other words, people who had been vaccinated with AstraZeneca had no higher chance of getting blood clots than the general population, and there’s nothing to indicate that that’s causal. But whenever there’s any kind of publicity about that, it increases the vaccine hesitancy,” added Colby.

According to Colby, vaccine acceptance has been better at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance’s two hospital sites and in the community at large.

“The uptake among health-care workers associated with the hospital was much, much higher,” said Colby. “Hopefully, we’ll reach the herd immunity point sometime this spring.”

According to Lisa Northcott, Vice-President of People and Chief Nursing Executive, Health Alliance staff and doctors are free to choose if they’ll be vaccinated. There’s been no vaccination campaign, but the hospital group has shared vaccine information it’s received from the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit.

“We are very pleased with the number of staff and physicians who have received the vaccination,” said Northcott. “We have heard much positive feedback from them on being able to receive the vaccine so quickly and the experience at the clinic.”

Mayor Darrin Canniff said he is pleased with the vaccine rollout so far in Chatham-Kent. He said the clinic had been a huge success, adding there have been more than 15,000 vaccinations given out in Chatham-Kent.

“I’ve been talking to people across the community, dozens of people. Everyone – everyone – has been saying how wonderful and organized and fantastic this place has been,” said Canniff.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News