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Health unit gives update on immunization plans

Shipments expected this week and next; ‘absolute refusers’ won’t take vaccine, doctor states
20190227-Algoma Public Health winter stock shot-DT
Algoma Public Health at 294 Willow Ave. Darren Taylor/SooToday

“With regards to immunization I will give the update that we are receiving a new allocation (of vaccine shipments) this week and next week, which is exceptional news.”

That from Dr. Jennifer Loo, Algoma Public Health (APH) medical officer of health and CEO, addressing the APH board at its regular monthly meeting early Wednesday evening.  

That means immunization of long-term care home staff and essential caregivers with the COVID-19 vaccine will take place, long-term care home residents will get their second doses of the vaccine (which Loo called "fantastic") and highest priority healthcare workers will receive it.

Loo told SooToday both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be received in the Sault and area.

“The latest news from the province is that we anticipate ongoing regular shipments now of the vaccine, and so certainly the plan is that we are going to roll out vaccine as quickly as possible with the help of a number of partners across the district, both the hospital as well as the primary care partners (across the geographically large Sault and Algoma area).”

As reported by SooToday’s sister site in Elliot Lake, vaccination plans are starting to take shape in that community.

“We hope to release something (more details of APH vaccination rollout plans) by the end of the week,” wrote Leo Vecchio, APH spokesperson in an email to SooToday.

Loo was questioned by the board as to how APH will ensure those without a family doctor will be advised in regards to when and where they can go to receive the vaccine, along with the region’s elderly.

“At this point in time we’re coordinating the specific details with each of our immunization partners and we’re going to be putting that up right on our website and we’re going to use all of our liaisons and networks to blast out that information,” Loo stated.

The COVID-19 vaccination show, in some cases, might be taken on the road.

“We already have healthcare partners who are planning for mobile outreach teams, recognizing that not everyone is going to make an appointment or show up at a mass immunization clinic, so we do have plans in place for an outreach style of approach because we know that will be necessary to achieve coverage,” Loo said.

Meanwhile, Ed Pearce, APH board 1st vice chair, said “I’m a bit concerned about the number that is being shown for the people who are willing to be vaccinated.”

“It’s 70 per cent if you take everybody who either ‘definitely will’ or ‘may’ do it. That’s a fairly low number and I’m very surprised at that.”

Loo said numbers in vaccine confidence were low in the early stages of vaccine development, but that confidence in the shot has gone up.

“An important thing to note is that there’s what we call the ‘absolute refusers’ and that 10 per cent usually will not budge...but that ‘movable middle’ is really where we’re able to devote resources to.”     

Though the Sault and area was upgraded from a total lockdown to a Yellow – Protect zone Feb. 16, Loo said “certainly there is a concern about a third wave, so there are a lot of restrictions and public health recommendations that still remain in place like not gathering (above Yellow - Protect zone limits), staying at home as much as possible and avoiding close contact with people you don’t live with,” Loo reminded the board.

Restrictions included within the province’s Yellow – Protect zone can be found here