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Health unit looking forward to mass immunization clinics

The local COVID vaccine clinics are still focused on priority groups in the first phase of the roll out

With COVID-19 vaccine clinics underway for priority groups in the region, the Porcupine Health Unit is looking forward to setting up public sites, according to program manager Kendra Brunet. 

Today, she talked to Timmins Chamber of Commerce members during the business organization's virtual quarterly meeting.

There are three phases in the province's vaccination plan, with the Timmins area being in phase one, said Brunet. So far, the health unit has only received the Moderna vaccine.

This week, residents at longterm care facilities and high-risk retirement homes, and First Nation Elder care residents have been receiving their second dose of the vaccine. Staff and essential caregivers at these facilities have been offered their first dose.

Other people receiving vaccines this week are high-risk healthcare workers, homecare staff and some medical first responders, including police officers and firefighters.

“So with police officers, we’d be looking at the individuals who would potentially be the ones administering CPR or possibly even naloxone," she explained.

Other groups in the first phase that the health unit is working to vaccinate are the urban Indigenous population and chronic homecare clients. She said they've also brought the vaccine to the four First Nations in the district to complete the 55 and over age group and will be finishing Constance Lake next week.

“We’re looking forward to setting up some major sites in our communities. You may have heard that we had two clinics going on this week at the Mountjoy arena, which were specific to the groups that I had mentioned and including some of the retirement homes that are not high risk so we were able to get a few more essential caregivers and staff in there as well," said Brunet.

"They’re not our massive immunization clinics yet, they’re still priority groups as identified by the ministry and then we will move towards this mass setting where we’re able to open up more publicly. We’re looking forward to that and looking forward to setting up these mass sites as well in our communities."

Right now, vaccine clinics are being booked directly with partners. The health unit will share announcements on how to book public clinics as groups are eligible. 

Earlier this week, the health unit released the anticipated vaccine schedule for this month. It is:

  • First week of March - Staff and essential caregivers of long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes; second doses for long-term care home residents, high-risk retirement home residents, and First Nation Elder care residents; highest-priority health care workers; residents, staff and essential caregivers of retirement homes. 
  • Second week of March - Indigenous adults 55 years and older in northern remote and higher-risk communities.
  • Third and fourth week of March - Adults 80 years and older; all Indigenous adults; other high-priority health care workers.

The health unit notes this schedule could change if more vaccines are received.

Today, the province announced it's expecting to receive more than two million COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of March. 

The second phase of the vaccination is expected to run from April to July and vaccinate up to nine million people. 

The phase two priority groups are:

  • Older adults between 60-79 years of age;
  • Individuals with specific health conditions and some primary caregivers;
  • People who live and work in congregate settings and some primary caregivers;
  • People who live in hot spots with high rates of death, hospitalizations and transmission; and,
  • Certain workers who cannot work from home.