Public Health hopes to have all willing residents vaccinated by September

·2 min read

The Board of Health in Chatham-Kent has released its plan to vaccinate residents of the municipality.

Chatham-Kent’s vaccination team plans to have every eligible and willing resident of the municipality vaccinated for COVID-19 by September.

“That means we’re aiming for approximately 67,500 residents or so,” said public health director Teresa Bendo. “That’s about 75 percent of the eligible folks in Chatham-Kent.”

By August, Bendo said they expect to get to the final phase; where vaccines will be available for anyone in Ontario who wants to be immunized.

She said Chatham-Kent would be using a “multi-pronged approach” to get the vaccines out to the population. This includes mobile outreach, which is already being used for long-term care and retirement homes.

The John D. Bradley Centre will serve as the “mass immunization” centre for Chatham-Kent, though there will be pop-up clinics in other parts of the municipality.

“I toured that last Friday, and I was very impressed with the entire setup and all of the work that was done there, and I really think they’re ready to go,” said Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby. “You just watch us go as soon as that is available.”

Colby said he hopes mass vaccinations can start as early as April, adding his team is ready to go.

He said finishing the first round of doses for staff at local long-term care and high-risk retirement homes is “job one” before the second dose can begin. Colby added delays in receiving vaccines forced the province to direct local public health units to give all first doses to long-term care residents, high-risk retirement, and First Nation elder care homes. He said residents were done first because of the low supply of doses received in the area.

As it stands, 914 total doses have been administered in Chatham-Kent.

If there is enough vaccine to justify another mass vaccination centre, he has been assured it can be set up within a week. He added the WISH Centre could be used as an alternate vaccination site if it is needed.

“We can commandeer the WISH Centre gymnasium whenever we want to,” he said. “There are no specific plans for that, but it’s certainly a possibility, and we’ve got a lot of alternatives up our sleeves to be able to handle this.”

Bendo said she has also been in communication with CK Transit representatives to decide how to help residents outside of Chatham arrive at the immunization centre.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News