COVID-19 vaccines are heading out to Hamilton care homes earlier than expected.
The City of Hamilton announced Sunday that — along with the Hamilton Health Sciences “fixed-site” clinic for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that must be kept cold — a mobile clinic run by public health, Primary Care Physicians and Hamilton Paramedic Services would begin vaccinations using the same vaccine at long-term-care homes and “high-risk” retirement homes.
A mobile clinic began vaccinating patients at Idlewyld Manor on Sunday, a news release from the city said.
The city says the pilot program will be expanded to include all long-term-care and high-risk retirement home residents, with the program completing by Jan. 18.
On Friday, the Spectator reported that Conservative MPP Donna Skelly confirmed a “small batch” of doses of the more portable Moderna vaccine would be arriving in Hamilton early next week.
That news followed the provinces initial announcement Tuesday that Hamilton was excluded from the “priority” hot zones — Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex — selected for an accelerated vaccination program for long-term-care residents who would be inoculated by Jan. 21.
Hamiltonians such as Mark Robertson, whose father lives in Shalom Village where an outbreak is underway, had criticized the province’s choice to exclude the city’s vulnerable care home residents.
The city’s four NDP MPPs called on the province to include Hamilton in the accelerated plan in an open letter issued Friday.
Sunday’s announcement of the pilot program’s extension means Hamilton patients will now be vaccinated ahead of the priority “hot zones.”
“The continued expansion of the COVID-19 vaccination program is extremely important in Hamilton right now, and I am eager to have our teams begin vaccinating some of our most vulnerable population,” said Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, medical officer of health.
It’s expected that vaccines will become available for more people in the winter and spring of 2021, and that by the end of the year the vaccine will be widely available, the city said.
Meanwhile, the city’s public health department reported seven new outbreaks and 121 new cases of COVID-19 in Hamilton over the weekend.
According to the city’s public health department, the new outbreaks occurred at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Charleton Campus in the clinical teaching unit, the Wellington Retirement Home on Upper Wellington Street near Stone Church Road, the Hamilton General Hospital’s Short Stay Medicine Unit and Emergency Department, Chartwell Willowgrove long-term care residence on Old Mohawk Road in Ancaster, Clarion Nursing Home, and the VON Clinic on Victoria Ave.
Including the outbreaks reported in the Short Stay Medicine Unit and Emergency Department at Hamilton General Hospital, there are seven active outbreaks among patients and staff at Hamilton Health Sciences.
There are currently 93 people hospitalized in Hamilton due to the virus. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 482 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19.
The number of active COVID cases dropped below 1,600 Sunday — after 42 new cases were reported — to 1,546.
The city also reported four more deaths Saturday, bringing the total to 200 since the pandemic began.
Jacob Lorinc, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator