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Staff and residents at two LTC homes will be first in line for COVID-19 vaccine

The Grey Bruce Health Unit is putting the finishing touches on a plan to vaccinate the staff and residents at two long-term care homes.

Dr. Ian Arra, Grey-Bruce’s medical officer of health, said he expects 200 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to arrive at the health unit this week.

Distroscale

The vaccines will be stored in a special freezer inside the health unit which is able to reach temperatures of -70 C. The freezer was sourced by Bruce Power and has since been delivered to the health unit. The Ministry of Health has calibrated and licensed the freezer, Arra said.

The vaccines will then be transported to the long-term care homes where they will be administered.

Arra didn’t want to say which of the region’s two long-term care homes would be vaccinated first, or when, as there were still some logistics to work out.

The residents and staff set to be vaccinated must be entered into the provincial system to keep a record of the process. Arra said the health unit is still in the process of gathering that information and affirming vaccination willingness among the population of staff and residents.

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“There is still lots to be done,” he said.

He did provide some insight into how the decision was made.

“We look at how many cases happened at the home, if they had an outbreak or not, if the structure of the home has bigger spaces – older buildings have narrower spaces so it’s difficult to have physical distancing and all these things. The age distribution in the home is another thing we look at. It’s not going to be – at the end of the day – an analysis done but we look at equity and fairness,” Arra said.

The direction from the province was to use all 200 doses upon arrival. Arra said it’s understood more doses will be available by the time the staff and residents at the long-term care homes will need their second shot.

As more shipments of the COVID-19 vaccines arrive, the provincial direction has been to ensure long-term care staff and residents are “first in line”.

Two more “super” freezers are expected to arrive shortly from Chapman’s Ice Cream, Arra said. One of the freezers is earmarked for the Davidson Centre in Kincardine. The other may be sent to another health unit.

Arra said he’s been told the arrival of those freezers is imminent, but the market for the limited resource has become very competitive.

“At one point I was concerned they may not arrive. There is pressure on getting these freezers . . . these deals are sometimes reversed,” he said.

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