Long-term care workers embrance opportunity to get vaccine

·3 min read

Uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine has been high among long-term care workers in eastern PEI. Some workers have shown hesitancy but a large majority have chosen to be vaccinated.

Grace Cressman, Nursing Director with Riverview Manor in Montague, said all but eight of 100 staff there have gotten at least their first dose of vaccine.

“Once people became informed, most were willing to get the vaccine,”

Ms Cressman said.

“As they learned this and saw their co-workers getting the vaccine without reactions, more seemed interested,” she said, adding for some it was just a matter of scheduling.

Of the eight who didn’t get vaccinated Ms Cressman said some were advised not to by their doctor for medical reasons.

“There was also the idea that no one wants to be the one to bring the virus into the home,” Ms Cressman said about the overwhelming positive response to the vaccine.

Nursing Director of the Dr John M Gillis Lodge in Belfast, Jennifer Penny, said she had not compiled the full tally yet but at least 80 per cent of staff at the lodge have been vaccinated. She added some are still planning to get their shot.

“I’ve seen the opposite of hesitancy,” said Jason Perrin, owner of Perrin’s Marina Villa in Montague. “People have been knocking at the door wondering if they can get a vaccine.”

Mr Perrin said several residents’ partners in care have asked if they would be able to be vaccinated. He hopes this may be possible.

He said more than 90 per cent of his staff have gotten their first dose and all the residents have had the chance to be vaccinated through a clinic set up on-site.

Approximately 71 per cent of the staff and nearly all residents at the 52-bed long-term care Colville Manor in Souris have been vaccinated, according to Health PEI.

Karen Cook, administrator of Lady Slipper Villa in O’Leary, said uptake for the COVID-19 vaccine seems to be more enthusiastic than it typically it is for the yearly flu vaccine.

Thirteen of 16 staff members have already been vaccinated and another staff member now plans to get the vaccine after further consideration.

Ms Cook said one staff member is on leave and one has been advised not to take the vaccine for medical reasons.

“The majority wanted to do it because they see it as a way out of this mess,” Ms Cook said.

On PEI Phase 1 of vaccination roll out began in December 2020 and will continue through to March 2021.

The province’s public health office expects the following Islanders will gradually be able to receive vaccines in this first phase:

Residents and staff of long-term and community care, health care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors 80 years of age and older, adults 18 years of age and older living in Indigenous communities, residents and staff of other residential or shared living facilities (e.g. group homes, residential care, shelters, corrections), truck drivers and other rotational workers.

From April to June this year, the public health office expects another swath of Islanders will be able to be vaccinated including the following: anyone in priority groups remaining from Phase 1, health care workers not included in phase one, seniors 70 years of age and older and essential workers.

Finally, through the summer and fall of 2021, public health hopes to be able to administer vaccine to anyone in priority groups remaining from Phase 2 and then the general public. Despite some recent delays in shipments of Pfizer vaccine in Canada, PEI's cheif public health officer, Dr Heather Morrison, said this schedule should remain on track.

Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic