The Porcupine Health Unit has received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Receiving the first doses is welcome news for medical officer of health Dr. Lianne Catton, who noted the tragic outcomes recently in the region.
Yesterday, the Timiskaming Health Unit and North Bay Parry Sound District Health Units also received their first doses of the vaccine as well. Public Health Sudbury and Districts is expecting its shipment in the coming weeks as well.
The first vaccines will be administered to residents at long-term care facilities, high-risk retirement homes, and to First Nations elder care residents. The provincial expectation is to have those completed by Feb. 5.
“Everyone is a priority and will receive a vaccine if they are eligible and want one,” said Catton in a news release. “However, we will not be able to immunize everyone at the same time, and we will need to stay positive and be patient.”
The Porcupine Health Unit is leading the vaccination program in the region.
“The PHU COVID-19 vaccination playbook is currently being finalized and includes ongoing collaboration with partners across sectors and communities to support and implement this critical next step in the response to the pandemic,” said Catton. “All decisions made about the distribution of the vaccine follow Ontario’s Ethical Framework for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution.”
While the vaccine is a positive step forward, Catton reminds people to stay home as much as possible and follow public health measures.
“The vaccine is an additional measure to reduce the spread COVID-19 and protect our communities,” she said. “It is giving hope that we will see an end to the pandemic and be able to return to some normalcy.”
To date, there have been 227 confirmed cases of the virus in the health unit region. Of those, 166 are recovered and 11 people have died. There are 51 known active cases.
There are COVID-19 assessment centres in Timmins, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Kapuskasing, Smooth Rock Falls, Hearst, and Hornepayne.