PHSD announces next steps for local COVID-19 vaccine rollout

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With direction recently received from the Ministry of Health, Public Health Sudbury & Districts will soon start offering the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations to those who are at greatest risk of severe COVID-19 illness and the people who care for them. Public Health anticipates receiving vaccine next week to continue with these efforts. As more information is received, timely updates will be provided to help current and future groups of people know when they will be offered the vaccine and how to make appointments.

“As a critical tool in our toolbox, the COVID-19 vaccine is in high demand and short supply right now. This means that the vaccines must be carefully earmarked for those who are most at risk of severe disease and death, and those who care for them,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health with Public Health Sudbury & Districts. “The supply-demand issues will be short lived—but until we have more vaccine, we have to make sure we are maximizing its potential to save lives and protect the health care system. I look forward to even a month down the road when the COVID-19 vaccine can be offered to more groups, according the provincial sequencing plan,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.

Working with key partners in the community, Public Health is implementing a phased vaccination approach outlined by the Province of Ontario. First doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been provided to all residents of area long-term care and high-risk retirement homes. The next round of vaccines will be available to staff and essential caregivers of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes. Public Health will be also working to provide vaccine to alternative level of care (ALC) patients in hospitals who have a confirmed admission to a home, as well as health care workers in the “highest priority” category (as defined by the Ministry of Health) followed by health care workers in the “very high priority” category, and to Indigenous adults in higher risk communities.

Once residents, staff, and essential caregivers of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes have been immunized, vaccine will be made available to all retirement home residents, staff and caregivers, adults 80 years of age and older, recipients of chronic home care, health care workers in the “high priority” category, and all Indigenous adults.

While plans for clinics are still underway, the vaccinations will be offered in settings such as community clinics and health care institutions. Details about individual clinics will be shared along with who is eligible for which clinics and how to book an appointment. All clinics are by appointment only, and people may be asked to bring documentation to confirm their eligibility, for example, to confirm employment as an eligible health care worker.

The planning efforts needed to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to the community are extensive and have benefited from collaboration and are very dependent on cooperation from various sectors, such as health care, municipal, and Indigenous partners, to ensure readiness. To facilitate this work, Public Health has been working diligently with these partners across its service area: in Chapleau, Greater Sudbury, Lacloche Foothills, Manitoulin Island, and in Sudbury East. Vaccination clinic sites will be limited in number as there is a need to balance the desire for individual convenience against the need for Public Health to be able to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. The common goal being to “get vaccine into arms” as quickly and safely as possible.

COVID-19 vaccination clinics will present many unique requirements and challenges that have not been faced in by previous vaccination programs. For example, consideration must be given to very specific transportation and handling requirements of the vaccine, security concerns, and ensuring that infection prevention and control measures are in place to host clinics to keep people safe.

To date, 1729 individuals have been immunized through vaccination clinics at the all long-term care homes within Public Health’s service area, one high-risk retirement home (Regent Manor), and 6 Elder’s lodges.

Public Health is currently in the Orange-Restrict category of the revised Provincial Framework (Government of Ontario). Until widespread vaccination can occur, everyone must continue to practise public health measures. These measures help to limit the spread of COVID-19, including the variants.

Public Health Sudbury & Districts COVID-19 Vaccination Program Playbook (PDF, 4 MB) provides details about the local vaccination plans. For a visual summary of the three phases of Public Health’s vaccination program, view the At-a-Glance plan. For more information or if you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit phsd.ca/COVID-19 or call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).