All of Lambton’s long term care residents now have first COVID shot; County reports 29 new cases Saturday

Valerie Verberg received the first COVID-19 vaccine in Lambton Jan. 26. It took until mid February for all long term care residents to be vaccinated.

Heather Wright/The Independent

Lambton Public Health says every senior in long term care in the county who wanted a COVID-19 vaccine has now had the first dose. This as the county reports 29 more people testing positive for virus.

Public health says it completed the vaccinations of every resident of long term care and high risk retirement homes in Lambton and at elder care facilities in Aamjiwnaang, Kettle and Stony Point and Walpole Island First Nations Friday .

Staff from Lambton Public Health, Bluewater Health and Lambton Emergency Medical Services administered the first doses over the last three weeks.

“We have established an efficient process and look forward to receiving more doses of the vaccine, so we can continue to protect our most vulnerable residents with their second dose,” said Dr. Sudit Ranade, Medical Officer of Health for Lambton County in a news release.

The news comes three days after a provincial goal of having all long term residents receive their first dose of the vaccine by Feb. 10.

Thursday, the Minister of Long Term Care sent out a news release saying the province had reached its deadline. Premier Doug Ford, in a radio interview with CHOK Thursday, said he’d been told Lambton’s vaccinations were complete when there were still well at least 150 more residents to be reached. It was reported as many as 9,000 seniors across Ontario still had not been offered their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Thursday.

The province has faced criticism of the first phase of its vaccine roll out. Ontario started receiving the much sought after vaccine in mid December. At the time, long term care residents – the most vulnerable to COVID-19 – were among a group of receiving the vaccine which included health care workers in long term care and hospitals.

Th first vaccines went to COVID-19 hotspots in the province including Toronto, Windsor and Ottawa. At the time, Lambton was at the height of it’s second wave and some local politicians – including Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey – pleaded with the government to start sending the vaccine here.

By Jan. 20, only 20 per cent of long term care residents had received the first dose of the vaccine.

Then the rollout hit a bump in the road. The federal government’s supplies dwindled when drug makers delayed delivery. The Ford government decided on Jan. 24 only the provinces 75,000 long term care residents should be vaccinated. Lambton still had not been given any vaccines.

Lambton received its first vaccines – 500 doses – the next day. On Jan. 26, Valerie Verberg in Trillium Villa Nursing Home became the first person to receive the Moderna vaccine.

By then, the three long term care and retirement homes were in the middle of the worst outbreaks of the second wave in Lambton. They all started after the first vaccines arrived in the province.

Eight people would die of COVID-19 at Twin Lakes Terrace, Village on the St. Clair and Vision Rest Home. All but one of the residents of Vision’s rest home tested positive for COVID-19.

All three homes are still in outbreak.

It took until Feb. 5 for the next round of vaccines to arrive in Lambton – 600 in all. Ranade said public health revised who would get the vaccines – just long term care homes and those in high risk retirement homes, older homes or those attached to long term care.

Friday, residents of Vision Nursing Home received the vaccine. They were among the last in the province to receive it.

At the same time Lambton Public Health announced the first round of vaccinations had been complete, it also issued a news release declaring two more outbreaks in long term care homes.

One staff member at Trillium Villa Long term Care Community and one staff member at Landmark Village Retirement Home in Sarnia tested positive for the virus. Public health declares an outbreak when there is one case in long term care.

In all, there were 29 more people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Lambton according to statistics released Saturday. There are now 80 people ill. Forty five people have died with COVID-19 and 1,835 have recovered.

There are nine outbreaks, including one at the Sarnia jail where 14 inmates and two corrections workers have tested positive.

Across Ontario, 1,300 new cases of the virus have been reported today and 19 more deaths.

Today, the federal government reports the province has received over 437,975  vaccines so far with 1.18 per cent of Ontarian’s getting the shot.