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Positive news on vaccines and LTC in Ontario.

Posted in Canada, Featured

Published on January 13, 2021 with No Comments

Vaccination distribution for homes in the four hot zones – Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex – will be done more than a week ahead of schedule.

Amid the doom and gloom that comes from dealing with COVID-19, it can be easy to miss the good news stories that pop up.

So, as we look over disturbing modelling data showing that things are getting worse and will for some time, let me offer a glimmer of hope.

The vaccinations in Ontario’s long-term care homes are going faster than planned.

Premier Doug Ford challenged Gen. Rick Hillier and his team running the vaccination distribution task force to have all long-term care homes in the four hot zones – Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex – completed by Jan. 21, for the first shot anyway. That will be done more than a week ahead of schedule.

“It is a huge accomplishment. There is a lot more work to do, though,” Theresa Marentette, CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, told the Windsor star on Monday.

Windsor-Essex was the first region to vaccinate all of their long-term care homes while York Region finished up Monday night. In Toronto, 69 out of 87 facilities have received their first dose and in Peel it was 18 out of 28 by the end of Monday.

Now, long-term care facilities elsewhere will become the focus. Areas such as Hamilton and London, Kingston and Peterborough.

The reason this is good news should be self-evident to everyone, long-term care facilities have been hard hit by COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, 60% of the more than 5,000 deaths the province has recorded have come from long-term care facilities, a population of just 79,000.

It’s true people living in long-term care are elderly, often frail with multiple underlying conditions, but they are our most vulnerable and need protection from this virus. Now they are getting it.

There are other changes that will allow more doses to go to long-term care residents and hopefully, have this entire population vaccinated within the next two to three weeks.

In Ottawa, where unfortunately the main vaccination clinic has run out of doses, they are doing trials in moving the Pfizer vaccine from the extreme deep freeze at their research hospital to long-term care centres. Last week, 93-year-old Arnold Roberts received the first vaccine at The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre as part of this program.

“Very good, very pleased,” Roberts said after getting the shot. “It was painless.”

We need more people like Roberts getting these vaccines as quickly as we can. Once nursing homes are finished, the priority needs to be anyone over the age of 80 living independently.

Those over 80 in Ontario living on their own is a population of a little over 600,000 people.

So far, Ontario is reporting a total of 133,553 doses administered of out of 196,125 doses sent by the federal government. The true number of vaccines is actually higher due to a lag in reporting doses of the Moderna vaccine administered in long-term care homes.

Those counts come back later due to the slow process of health workers inputting data from off-site clinics. Bottom line is, the province has used at least 70% of the doses they have received and some of the remaining doses need to be given this week as second shots.

There is a shipment of 80,925 Pfizer doses coming sometime this week but at this point, they have not arrived. A shipment of 56,700 Moderna doses will come sometime this week and then a shipment every three weeks.

All told, though, according to the federal schedule, Ontario will receive enough doses over the next several weeks to vaccinate everyone in long-term care and by the end of February, enough doses that our elderly population can be looked after as well.

The people hardest hit by COVID are those over 80, the sooner this population is vaccinated, the sooner we can all start getting back to some semblance of normal.


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