As vaccination eligibility widens, here's how you can get a shot in Windsor-Essex

·3 min read
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) advises residents to use the local booking system until a decision is made about switching to the provincial system.  (Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit)
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) advises residents to use the local booking system until a decision is made about switching to the provincial system. (Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit)

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and local partners have launched a vaccination awareness campaign to help residents navigate who is eligible to get a vaccine and where.

The WEVax site brings residents to the health unit's vaccination page to find out information about vaccines and if they are eligible.

As of Tuesday, Windsor-Essex residents aged 75 and older can start booking appointments to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Those in that age range are part of a growing group of people currently eligible for vaccines in the region.

Here's a look at where vaccinations are taking place, and who can get a shot.

Pharmacies

Windsor-Essex is one of three regions part of the province's pilot pharmacy vaccination roll-out of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.

Fifty-seven local pharmacies are distributing vaccines to people aged 60 and up, following guidance from the province and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization that finds the AstraZeneca shot is safe for older populations.

Previously, the shots were available for those aged 60 to 64.

Those seeking vaccination at pharmacies are required to make an appointment online or by phone to get vaccinated.

However, some pharmacies in Windsor-Essex are running out of their vaccine supply nearly one and a half weeks after a pilot project began. The project saw 500 doses of the Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine shipped to each of 57 local pharmacies.

Justin Bates, CEO of Ontario Pharmacists' Association, told CBC News Tuesday that more vaccine is expected to go out to pharmacies in the next two weeks.

Mass vaccination clinics

For seniors 80 and older, mass vaccinations are happening at four clinics in Windsor-Essex: the WFCU Centre, the St. Clair College Sportsplex, Windsor Hall (the former Windsor Star building), and Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Complex in Leamington.

The Sportsplex site is also offering vaccinations to priority populations identified in the province's three-phase Provincial Distribution Plan, including health care workers in accordance with the Ministry of Health's guidance and adults in First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations.

All four of the above sites require appointments to be made in advance and do not permit walk-ins.

Amherstburg's Libro Centre is also expected to open for vaccination on March 29.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit advises residents to use the local booking system — anyone who tries to use the provincial portal will get redirected back to the health unit's website.

The local booking system allows eligible people to book an appointment slot and clinic location.

Transit Windsor is offering free rides to those who are travelling to and from vaccination clinics.

Family doctors offering vaccination

A limited number of primary care and family health teams are also vaccinating residents, and are focused on priority populations identified in phase 1 of the province's vaccination roll out.

At this time, WECHU has not disclosed the names and locations of primary care and family health teams.

The unit says this is to avoid non-patients calling these offices and preventing their patients from seeking care with their primary care provider.

Other modes of vaccination

Paramedics with Essex-Windsor EMS have also begun mobile vaccination which includes visiting seniors 80 and over in targeted apartment buildings, who may not have easy access to a physical site.

As of earlier this month, 44 residents have been given the Moderna vaccine through EMS, with the goal of visiting six other buildings to vaccinate senior residents. Discussions are also in place to further expand mobile vaccination to others in the community who have accessibility issues or other health vulnerabilities.

WECHU said that people are not able to sign up at this time, but that it is working with local partners to identify "high risk groups and to coordinate the registration process" for the mobile clinics.