Lambton gets 500 vaccines for 1,000 long term care residents

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Kristine Wook Photo

Public health expects to vaccinate all LTC residents by the first week of February, ‘provided we have the vaccine’

Long term care residents in Lambton will begin rolling up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday.

The province sent 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine to Lambton Public Health today and officials will begin vaccinating long term care residents immediately.

Public Health’s Manager of Family Health, Kevin Churchill, said in an email there are about 1,000 people in long term care homes in Lambton. Another 550 people live in retirement homes.

Provincial officials laid out a new plan for vaccinating long term care residents only Monday as the drug supply dwindles.

Pfizer has stopped some shipments of its vaccine to Canada as it retools its plant in Europe to increase production. Ontario won’t receive any doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week and a reduced number in the first week of February.

Even before Pfizer announced it would cutback deliveries to Canada, Lambton politicians voiced concern this community lagged behind in getting the vaccine while other communities, with fewer cases per 100,000 of people, had vaccinated long term care residents, personal support workers and some hospital employees.

The rollout of vaccines was developed based on COVID-19 case counts in Ontario in early December. The number of cases exploded in Lambton in mid-December, making the community a COVID hot spot rivaling Windsor and Metro Toronto but leaving them among the last health units to receive the vaccine.

Today, public health officials in Toronto said the 14 public health units – including Lambton – who had not received any vaccine would be sent the Moderna vaccine instead. It arrived today and in Lambton, the vaccination will begin Tuesday.

The province says to deal with the short supply only long term care residents will now get the vaccine by the first week of February. Until now, their caregivers and personal support workers in long term care homes were also receiving the vaccine.

Sarnia Lambton MPP Bob Bailey reiterates just the estimated 1,000 people in long term care in Lambton will receive the first round of vaccines “not retirement homes and not seniors living on their own.”

Bailey says long term care residents are the most vulnerable because they are “more or less captive” and unable to control who enters their home.

He adds the province is changing the guidelines to the vaccine “to try to stretch it as far as they can.”

Public health expects there will be more vaccine on the way to finish vaccinating long term care residents.

“We expect to receive additional doses on a regular basis. We have the capacity to deliver all first doses to this population in a two week time frame, provided we have the vaccine,” says Churchill.

With enough doses now to vaccinate just half of long term care residents, Churchill says priority is determined “by risk category of homes in a formula determined by the province that includes factors such as physical design and age of the facilities.”