Tom Sasvari with files by Warren Schlote
MANITOULIN – Vaccination clinics took place in earnest in various places around Manitoulin, with more scheduled in the next week, including one in Gore Bay by the end of this month.
“We had intended to have one big vaccine clinic on Tuesday (last week, March 16), but problems were encountered when the region appointment system crashed,” said Dr. Maurianne Reade, president of the professional staff at Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC), this past Sunday. “In the end we had over 200 people get their vaccines on Tuesday and the rest of them were held on Thursday morning.” She pointed out a total of 350 people from around the Island who are aged 80 and over received the vaccinations last week.
On top of that, the Manitoulin Health Centre had held three mass vaccination clinics, on February 27, March 1 and March 10, delivering 527 doses to health care and other essential workers.
After those sessions, non-Indigenous vaccination distribution has shifted to Manitoulin’s three family health teams (FHTs): Northeast, Assiginack and Central.
“The MCFHT (Manitoulin Central Family Health Team) acted as lead at the clinics in Mindemoya, and the Northeast and Assiginack acted as leads for the vaccinations in Little Current,” said Dr. Reade.
Northeastern Manitoulin FHT executive director Judy Miller gave a conservative estimate that the FHTs had given at least 600 vaccinations, including to those in the 80 plus category through mass vaccination clinics held last week.
During the week of March 8, when vaccinations rapidly increased across the Island, Mnaamodzawin Health Services collaborated with Noojmowin Teg Health Centre to distribute 503 vaccines to First Nation individuals aged 55 and older in Aundeck Omni Kaning, Sheguiandah First Nation, Sheshegwaning, Whitefish River First Nation and Zhiibaahaasing. This past Saturday, Noojmowin Teg distributed an additional 77 shots.
M’Chigeeng, which is running its own vaccination campaign, gave out 685 total doses as of last week. It was expecting an additional 142 doses this past Monday, March 22, to begin vaccinating its adults aged 18 or older.
Naandwechige-Gamig Wikwemikong Health Centre vaccinated 693 community members and band employees on March 10, 11 and 12 including residents aged 16 and older. Vaccinations continued during the March 11 blackout because its system used a hybrid of paper and electronic information.
“We are also very interested and working on having a clinic by the end of March in Gore Bay,” Dr. Reade told the Recorder. “So, what has been taking place at each clinic is training modelling has been taking place, so for instance when the clinics are held in Gore Bay it may be co-led by Noojmowin Teg and MCFHT supporting the Gore Bay Medical Centre.”
Dr. Reade noted all the clinics held on the Island this past week were for residents aged 80 years and older. “Although Premier Doug Ford has made announcements that on such a day a clinic was going to be held for those younger than 80, this doesn’t take in Northeastern Ontario. We weren’t among the first areas to get the vaccines so we are basically playing catch up.”