Moderna vaccine could roll out in P.E.I. long-term care homes Tuesday

·3 min read

P.E.I. has received 1,200 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and vaccinations could begin as early as next Tuesday for some residents of long-term care facilities.

Jason Lee, CEO of P.E.I. Seniors Homes, said public health officials told him the vaccine's rollout could begin at Whisperwood Villa, one of the homes he runs, as early as Tuesday, with public health nursing staff administering the shots.

"It's just going to be a relief to people to know that with every vaccine, people are getting safer," said Lee, who also runs the Garden Home and the Lady Slipper Villa.

The vaccine, which arrived Wednesday on the Island, requires one shot and one booster, so the doses are enough for 600 Islanders.

We're very fortunate to have such a rigorously tested, effective vaccine available this year. — Jason Lee, P.E.I. Seniors Homes

Lee said he expects that over the month of January, most if not all of the 299 residents in his three homes will get vaccinated.

"We could, in theory, use half of those vaccines just among our residents. We don't expect that will necessarily be the way it goes," he said.

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

Lee said there are 1,200 seniors living in public and private nursing homes in the province, not including community care homes.

"There are enough [vaccines] to do half of those residents. We expect that, you know, somehow a decision will be made as to who that half is, knowing that within days or weeks we'll see more vaccines arrive," Lee said.

"We should feel very optimistic."

Lee said 30 per cent of his staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19 already, with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that arrived on P.E.I. earlier this month.

Moderna vaccine can be easily transported

The benefit of the Moderna vaccine is that it can easily be moved and only needs normal freezer temperatures, unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which needs to be stored at at least –60 C.

He said that much like with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, his homes were asked to give a list of residents to public health officials, who then decide who gets the shot, and when.

The vaccine will be administered by public health nurses.

We don't expect any major changes in our safety protocols for several months. — Jason Lee

Lee said he feels fortunate to be getting ready for the vaccine to roll out in his homes.

"There were a lot of contradictory messages as to just how long it would take to produce a vaccine. Some people were saying months and some people were saying years," he said.

"So I think we're very fortunate to have such a rigorously tested, effective vaccine available this year."

Safety protocols will remain in place

Even with vaccinations, Lee said the preventative measures in place at his homes will continue for the foreseeable future.

"We don't expect any major changes in our safety protocols for several months," he said.

"[The measures] are here for the winter and probably the spring. And we'll hope for better things in the summer."

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