Above, Danielle Houle (centre) was one of the first LTC residents in the EOHU region to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, at St. Jacques Nursing Home (Embrun), Jan. 13, 2021. Houle’s daughter and caregiver Melanie Mitchell (left) appears with the recipient, along with St. Jacques Nursing Home administrator Ginette Beaudin.
CORNWALL — The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) says it has received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccine, with residents, staff and essential caregivers in long-term care (LTC) homes starting to get the jab today (Jan. 13).
Local EMS paramedics and public health nurses from the EOHU will administer the shots within the LTC homes.
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health, has previously indicated that 1,200 doses — or “one tray” — would arrive in this first delivery.
“This is excellent news for our region,” says Roumeliotis. “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.”
It’s expected the Moderna vaccine will also arrive in the EOHU region within the coming weeks.
Anticipated vaccination roll-out
Due to a limited supply of vaccines, the Ontario government’s Phase One 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,” says the EOHU in a press release.
The EOHU will notify the public as the vaccine becomes available to different population groups.
Important to continue following public health measures
Meanwhile, 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 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.”