The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has announced that the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines has arrived in the EOHU region.
In accordance with the Ontario government’s mandate for the immunization of priority populations, the vaccines will be administered to residents, staff and essential caregivers in long-term care (LTC) homes starting January 13.
Local EMS paramedics and public health nurses from the EOHU will administer the vaccines within the LTC homes. “This is excellent news for our region,” says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health.
“Vaccinating residents, staff and essential caregivers in long-term care homes will help protect our most vulnerable residents, who have been the most harshly affected by the spread of COVID-19.”
The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines are Pfizer vaccines, however, it is expected that Moderna vaccines will also arrive in the EOHU region within the coming weeks.
Due to a limited supply of vaccines, the Ontario government’s Phase 1 roll-out of the vaccine prioritizes individuals who are at higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19 or of developing a severe illness or dying from COVID. Vaccinations will begin with residents, staff and essential caregivers at long-term care homes and retirement homes, before moving on to other groups as more vaccine stock arrives in the region. Vaccine delivery is expected to accelerate over the coming months.
As vaccine stock increases, vaccination will expand to more population groups. It is anticipated that by this fall (or sooner), anyone who wants a vaccine will have access to one.
The EOHU will notify the public as the vaccine becomes available to different population groups. The EOHU urges residents to continue following public health measures throughout the coming months.
“While the arrival of the vaccine in our region is a great first step towards protecting our community, the reality is that it will be a number of months before the vaccine is available to everyone who wants it. In the meantime, we are seeing COVID-19 infections rapidly increasing in our area and across the country,” says Dr. Roumeliotis. “We must continue to maintain public health measures like masking, physical distancing and proper hand washing to protect our community until enough of our population has been immunized and the pandemic is brought under control.”