MANITOULIN – Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) is confirming that this week marks the start of the much-anticipated vaccination program for residents of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes. PHSD is receiving shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine over the next two weeks in quantities sufficient to immunize all residents of the facilities in its service area, including Manitoulin Centennial Manor in Little Current and Manitoulin Lodge in Gore Bay, by February 5.
“This is wonderful news for our community, and we are very eager to immunize and protect our most vulnerable citizens,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health with PHSD. “Vaccines are a critical tool in our fight against COVID-19. We look forward to working with our partners on a safe, effective and efficient round of immunizations,” added Dr. Sutcliffe.
“Public health is working closely with community partners to complete vaccinations by February 5 or earlier,” a press release from PHSD states. “The vaccine will be offered to everyone eligible to receive it on a voluntary basis. The vaccine is a safe and effective tool in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and protecting health of everyone, including our most vulnerable, in the community.”
This news follows on the successful vaccination of residents, staff and essential caregivers of Wikwemikong Nursing Home on January 13.
Area long-term care homes will be sequenced over the next two weeks based on vaccine availability, COVID-19 case rates and outbreaks, and other factors such as logistics to avoid vaccine wastage.
The critical need for COVID-19 vaccine to protect our most vulnerable has been further highlighted with several recent outbreaks declared locally. Most recently, PHSD has declared COVID-19 outbreaks at Pius XII Catholic School, following three associated cases, and at Summit Human Services (group home), a congregate living setting, following the report of one case of COVID-19 in a staff member.
“Our worry with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine supply reductions was that we would have to wait longer and so we are thrilled that supplies of the Moderna vaccine are being made available to protect vulnerable people across the province,” noted Dr. Sutcliffe. “I would like to thank long-term care homes and community paramedicine for their support in partnering in this truly unprecedented vaccination plan.”
At a board meeting of the Manitoulin Centennial Manor held last week, it was noted by Manor administrator Tamara Beam that releases allowing for the vaccinations have been obtained from 100 percent of the residents of the Manor, but only 90 percent of the staff. “Four have refused,” Ms. Beam said, but noted that all the volunteer caregivers have also assented to vaccination.
Public health is reminding everyone to continue to follow public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “We must work together by staying apart, staying home and staying COVID-safe. Continue to screen yourself for symptoms, stay home and do not attend work or school when ill. For essential outings, continue to practice physical distancing, wear your mask and wash your hands.”
“Public health remains committed to providing timely information and resources on our vaccine planning and rollout,” the press release continues. For more information or if you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit phsd.ca/COVID-19 or call PHSD at 705-522-9200 (toll-free 1-866-522-9200).