The second shipment of Covid-19 vaccines is expected to arrive in Chatham-Kent this week.
While Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health David Colby doesn’t know when the shipment will arrive, he was informed by the Ministry of Health there will be enough to finish giving the first dose to all long-term care home residents
Residents in four high-risk retirement homes and one Indigenous elder care home are scheduled to be vaccinated
According to Colby, approximately 400 residents, or half of all residents in local long-term care facilities, have been vaccinated. However, that doesn’t include those at Fairfield Park Nursing Home in Wallaceburg due to the current outbreak.
“The province does not recommend vaccination teams go into long-term care homes that are in outbreak,” said Colby.
As it stands, Fairfield Park is Chatham-Kent’s only long-term care home with active cases in residents.
“Unless that situation stabilizes, I don’t think there’s any point in going in to vaccinate the residents,” said Colby.
Colby explained this is because the incubation period of the infection is shorter than the time it takes for the vaccine to kick in.
“Can’t just go in there and vaccinate people that have already been exposed in the hope that they are going to have their infection prevented by that intervention. It doesn’t work like that,” added Colby
CK Public Health is aiming to have all local long-term care residents vaccinated by February 5, 2021.
He praised Chatham-Kent’s vaccination team for being “absolutely pumped and ready to go” and delivering the initial doses in 24 hours, or “record time.”
“Every dose of vaccine that we received was administered, and in record time,” said Colby. “Not a single dose was wasted, and we were actually able to eke a few extra doses out of some vials and vaccinate more people. I’m very, very proud of our vaccine team.”
Colby said residents in long-term care, high-risk retirement homes, and First Nations communities would get the vaccine first, and the rest will depend on the supply of vaccines. Despite there being an ethical framework for vaccine distribution in the province, Dr. Colby would prefer the shots to go to the elderly most at risk first.
“I would be happiest if we got huge amounts of vaccine and could open it up right away to everyone,” said Colby. “My personal view is I think it should be based on the risk of complications and mortality, and the greatest predictor of that is age.”
Colby said he is reluctant to make predictions but suspects mass vaccination clinics will be available by April, should there be enough supply.
He added that he believes there will eventually be a time when the COVID-19 shots can be widely available to everyone in places such as pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and other various clinics.
“The government of Ontario has suggested that by August, at the latest, all people that want vaccines in Ontario will have had an opportunity to have it,” said Colby. “That’s a projection, but I think that’s a realistic timeline.”
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News