NWHU prepares for more vaccines in the region

·3 min read

According to a release issued by the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) on Friday, the second dose of the Moderna vaccine will be given to elder care home and long-term care home residents. As well, first doses will be administered to elder care home and long-term care home staff, essential caregivers, other high risk and high priority individuals over the coming weeks.

The NWHU expects to begin appointment-based clinics in early April starting with residents over 80 years old.

Appointments cannot be booked yet but the NWHU expects that online and phone appointment booking will begin in mid to later March. The public will be informed when appointments can be booked for those aged 80 years and older.

Until then, Dr. Kit Young Hoon, Medical Officer of Health at the NWHU, recommends that residents prepare now. This means residents who are immunocompromised, have an autoimmune disorder, are pregnant or have an allergy to the vaccine or its components should speak to their healthcare provider to see if they should get the vaccine.

NWHU expects that it will have more vaccines throughout April, May and June for eligible populations.

Young Hoon said the NWHU has been behind other regions in terms of vaccinations because the province has prioritized areas with higher incidence rates, despite the increase in COVID-19 case numbers in the region.

Young Hoon said they have locations identified for vaccine distribution, that are the process of being finalized.

“For the most part, it’s large community venues that people would be familiar with whether it’s a recreation centre or legion,” Young Hoon said.

There are currently 59 active cases in the region: six in the Rainy River region; eight in the Dryden/Red Lake region; 26 in the Kenora region, and 19 in the Sioux Lookout region.

“The increases at this time are still relatively small and case and contact management is manageable,” Young Hoon said. “The cases are often clustered together in one social group or one household or a couple of households that tend to socialize together.”

Young Hoon said the public needs to be aware that although numbers are lower than other regions, public health measures need to be followed in order for cases to not increase. She adds that the NWHU is not encouraging indoor gatherings even though it is allowed but if residents choose to do so, they should maintain a two-metre distance and wear a mask if coming within that two metre distance.

“We’re monitoring the numbers closely and we are seeing that numbers have increased slightly across the region if we were to not think about the situation the Kenora,” Young Hoon said.

While the U.K. variant of the COVID-19 virus was found in late February, Young Hoon said they are not aware of any other variants in the catchment area or any suggestions that there might be.

As the weather is warming up, many are curious about what is to come of spring and summer events. Young Hoon said outdoor events could be a possibility if vaccines continue to rollout and public health guidelines can be followed.

“At this point, the general advice is to continue to follow public health measures, whatever the event or the situation is,” Young Hoon said. “Even though the vaccination is rolling out, we’re still asking people to follow all the usual guidance as it relates to COVID-19 because at this time it’s not been fully established how this is going to impact the pandemic.”

Young Hoon said if events are in the planning stages, the NWHU is open to answering questions concerning if it can be done and what public health measures need to be implemented.

Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times