Vaccinations help eliminate outbreaks and save lives at long-term care homes in Guelph and Wellington County

·2 min read

GUELPH/WELLINGTON – A high rate of vaccination in long-term care and retirement homes are a big factor in a recent decline in facility outbreaks among residents.

As of Friday, there are no active COVID cases linked to facility outbreaks among residents.

Two staff members each from Royal Terrace in Palmerston and Village of Riverside Glen in Guelph are confirmed to have cases.

Danny Williamson, WDG public health spokesperson, said this is great news and partly related to the success of the vaccine program in those settings.

“Most of the folks in these retirement and long-term care facilities have been vaccinated, so we would really hope to start to see those cases really taper off,” Williamson said.

Williamson said it’s not necessarily the only reason we’re seeing a drop in these cases noting a wide-scale lockdown brought down overall cases in the region.

Strict infection control measures along with the lockdown and widespread vaccination at these facilities have worked in tandem to bring cases down among residents and staff too.

This is a contrast to the beginning of the year with large-scale outbreaks in facilities across the public health region, many of them with a high amount of severe and fatal cases.

Data from a report from the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table shows an estimated 96 per cent reduction in COVID-19 mortality among long-term care residents eight weeks after vaccination began in the province.

Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum, associate medical officer of health, said in an email this appears to be the case in the WDG Public Health region.

"We know that the vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death and that is certainly being borne out in our experience," Tenenbaum said by email. "The facility deaths occurred in the context of outbreaks, and the vaccination efforts have really done a good job of stopping spread within these facilities."

The results of the vaccination program in seniors’ facilities is ultimately what public health is looking for when more of the broader public is vaccinated.

“As our local vaccination shoots up, we want to see those cases start to tail off,” Williamson said. “That’s the whole goal, is to get to a place where most of us have been vaccinated.”

Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,