Residents of long-term care homes (LTC) in The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit area should be vaccinated against COVID19 by Feb. 5, acting medical officer of health, Dr. Ian Gemmill, told a media scrum Jan. 27.

Dr. Gemmill said the district received its first shipment of 700 Moderna vaccines Jan. 25 and is rolling them out to LTC homes for residents who want them. The health unit is hoping for more doses next week to complete immunizing all residents to meet provincial target dates. There are an estimated 1,600 LTC residents in the district.

The province announced Jan. 25 – the day the health unit received its first vaccines – that it is accelerating its target date to Feb. 5 for the vaccination of residents in LTC, high-risk retirement, and First Nations elder care homes.

The vaccines were delivered to Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay, which will be the district’s storage location. Vaccines will first go to Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Hope Street Terrace in Port Hope and Maplewood Long-Term Care Home in Brighton, with additional clinics to go elsewhere in the next couple of weeks.

“Unfortunately, we know that what we have received will not ensure that all of our long-term care residents are vaccinated with this week’s supply,” Gemmill said. “We have had to determine priorities about which long-term care homes get the vaccine first, and we are hopeful that we will soon receive more vaccine so we can complete the immunization of residents and staff of both our longterm care homes and retirement homes.”

Gemmill said there will likely be a pause in delivery after next week. However, once the supply chain resumes, he said vaccines would go to LTC home staff, essential caregivers, hospital and healthcare workers, then older adults, those living in congregate living situations and the remainder of the adult population. He said that could take until the end of September, but he is hopeful it will be sooner.

He also allayed fears about the “blistering” fast development.

“This vaccine is safe. The vaccine is effective. The clinical trials have been conducted on tens of thousands of people. Millions since licensing have already received it. We’re not hearing that there are safety problems with this vaccine.”

Advice to cottagers

Despite the first batch of vaccines arriving, the public must remain vigilant in the face of COVID-19, Gemmill said.

He specifically addressed Haliburton County in his weekly briefing.

He said while the past 14 days had seen a preponderance of cases in Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes, “that’s not to say that Haliburton is unaffected.”

As of Jan. 27, there were five cases of COVID-19 not resolved in Haliburton, and 13 current high-risk contacts. The County has seen 48 confirmed cases to date, with 42 of them resolved. There have been two hospitalizations but no deaths.

“I am aware that of these, say eight cases in Haliburton, a couple were hospitalized and so that’s rather significant, that’s 25 per cent, so it’s small but I think the issue is the Coronavirus is everywhere … to say there is no coronavirus in Haliburton is not accurate.”

He also addressed the issue of people travelling to the County to access their cottages. He said while there is nothing to stop them, they must do it the “right way.”

“That means getting your supplies before you go, drive in your car, stay in your car, go straight to your property. And when you get there, remember there’s a stay-at-home order there. It applies just as much at our recreational property in HKPR as it does to our residence in Toronto or some other part of the GTA. And when you travel home, do the same thing. Please do not put other people at risk.”

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