New streamlined COVID-19 vaccination system goes into operation in Sudbury

·3 min read

Sudbury residents going for COVID-19 vaccinations at the newest venue in the city's South End are likely to experience a more streamlined process than has been used so far.

Public Health Sudbury and Districts showed off the new system at Sudbury's Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex on Friday. A PHSD news release said vaccination clinics would be taking place at the Countryside arena on Tuesday March 30, Wednesday March 31 and Thursday April 1.

Unlike the Carmichael Arena where previous clinics have been held in Sudbury, the set up at the Countryside is called "the hockey hub" and features several long rows of private cubicles where registered clients can sit and wait for the public health nurse to come along to administer the needle. The new set-up has 150 cubicles located on one-half of the arena surface. The other half of the arena floor is for registration and processing the clients before they are seated.

In the cubicle area, the nurse will roll a cart along each aisle with new syringes and fresh vaccine for each patient. A portable iPad will confirm the identity of each person.

Once the shot is given, a timer device attached to the wall is activated for 15 minutes to allow the patient to sit and wait so that the health care team can observe if there are any adverse effects.

Sudbury public health nurse Karly McGibbon said it is estimated that the immunization team will be able to process up to 380 people per hour.

"So this model was developed by another health unit in Southern Ontario. They developed it and put it out if other health units wanted to try it. The aim of this one is to get through many more people much faster and still in a safe manner. So we're going to give it a shot," said McGibbon.

She said the model is especially effective when PHSD has been provided with a large supply of vaccines, allowing them to work more quickly and hold more clinics.

"Our plan is to reach 2,000 people on Saturday, which is great because we have that vaccine supply. We might not always have that amount," said McGibbon.

She added that PHSD has enough equipment and portable cubicles to set up the same hockey hub arrangement at another venue, if it is required. The new system will stay in place at the Countryside arena, while the traditional tables-and-chairs setup will continue at the Carmichael Arena on Bancroft Drive, she said.

McGibbon added that care is taken to ensure that the vaccine supply is not inadvertently wasted.

"So the vaccine inventory management is so important as we get to the end of a clinic and we're only opening the vials that we need to complete the clinic,” she said.

“So for example Pfizer has six doses in a vial. So I am not opening that until I am sure I have the clients in the building. For example I may have four clients and I open the vial, I will have two leftover doses, so in that case we will use our standby list," she explained.

McGibbon said these are pre-qualified individuals such as health care workers or clients over 80 who were missed on a previous clinic can then get a shot.

"I can't just choose my neighbour. It has to be somebody on the standby list that has been pre-qualified," she said.

McGibbon said a vial of vaccine that has been thawed is good in a normal fridge for five days. But a single vial that has been punctured, or just opened, must be used within six hours. Or it will have to be thrown out.

"I am happy to say we haven't thrown out any doses," she said.

Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com, covering health care in Northern Ontario. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the federal government.

Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com