'Quick, fast and painless': Orangeville COVID-19 vaccine clinic administers 1st doses

·3 min read

His sleeves were rolled up as he sat straight in the chair with his head up high.

Geoff Green was one of the first people in the community to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Alder Recreation Centre on Wednesday, March 3.

“It was quick, fast and painless,” said Green. “The reason I’m here is because my mother is in Avalon Retirement Lodge and I am an essential caregiver to her and her alternate decision-maker. I have to be immunized in case something happens.”

The clinic was held by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph (WDG) Public Health, Dufferin County and the Town of Orangeville. Mayor Sandy Brown encourages residents to vaccinate.

“These vaccines have been vetted by public health officials all over the world, multiple times for their safety and efficacy,” said Brown. “I think we should step up and get the vaccination as soon as possible so we can get back to our normal lives.”

Brown plans to receive the vaccine when the eligibility requirements expand to place him in line.

About 250 people were vaccinated. They plan to ramp it up 2,500 doses a day later on.

Pre-registration is available for those in the aforementioned eligible priority groups who are interested in receiving the shot. Public health had 15,000 calls inquiring about the shot.

“We’re blending in the next group of health-care workers and then some of it is aged-based prioritization,” said Danny Williamson, communications specialist for WDG Public Health. “We do want to press ahead. The goal is to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.”

The cost to administer the vaccine to a patient is covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). It is preferred to have an Ontario health card present, but a birth certificate, driver's licence or passport will be accepted.

The second dose is usually administered 28 to 35 days out. Anywhere from 21 to 42 days is OK. Residents in the WDG Public Health region can attend a clinic elsewhere provided they remain in the area.

Green isn’t the only one to be vaccinated in his family. His mother and daughter also received the shot.

“My daughter is a communications disorder assistant,” said Green. “She is a front-line worker, so she got her first dose on Friday and has her second dose in two and a half weeks.”

Only select Dufferin residents received their vaccine shot on the first day. Adults who were 80 years of age and older who live in WDG, Indigenous people, those who live in a long-term-care home or are essential support staff in long-term care were eligible to have the shot.

“We want to make sure our vulnerable people are taken care of,” said Brown. “The elderly and those in long-term care facilities, public health officials and front-line workers need to be vaccinated.”

The health unit follows the directives of the province and, as such, they will follow its decisions as to when the broader public can be vaccinated.

“I haven’t missed a day of work because of COVID since it started,” said Green. “I work for the railway. They have stringent rules in place that we have to follow. I’m looking forward to a family vacation next February when everything gets back to normal.”

“We have a good understanding of our shipment schedule through March and it’s about 3,500 doses per week,” said Williamson. “That’s all Pfizer. Beyond that, we are not sure. Vaccine supplies are on an upwards trajectory. We started out with 975 does of Pfizer, the first week we got it in January.”

Staff at the centre will begin vaccinating the broader public as supply expands. The centre will be supplemented by mobile clinics later on.

Those who sign up will have their contact information shared to public health for booking appointments. This can be done at www.wdgpublichealth.ca or by calling 1-800-265-7293.

Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner