Omicron concerns force HKPR vaccine clinic pivot

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    Close-up medical syringe with a vaccine.

    The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) will no longer accept walk-ins at mass vaccination clinics and is revamping contract tracing procedures due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases stretching staff resources in the region.

    “We are having to make some changes to ensure we have staff coverage in the areas most impacted right now,” said chief medical officer of health Dr. Natalie Bocking in a Dec. 15 press release.

    “With the expansion of the eligibility for booster doses and the identification of the Omicron variant in the province, we are seeing a high demand at our clinics. This, coupled with the surge in cases we have seen recently, has forced us to do things a little differently.”

    Since Friday, the HKPR District Health Unit has been notified of 56 confirmed cases of residents in the region. There are three unresolved cases in Haliburton County.

    The health unit said increased demand for third doses of the vaccine mean walk-in appointments are no longer feasible.
    “Additional appointments are being added to clinics and residents are strongly encouraged to book an appointment for their first, second and third dose of vaccine through the provincial booking system.”

    High-risk contacts

    HKPR will now send letters to all those identified as high-risk contacts, outlining quarantine and testing requirements. Additional information for high-risk contacts is available on the health unit’s website at www.hkpr.on.ca.

    “As cases continue to surge, the health unit will continue to communicate what type of communications high-risk contacts can expect to receive,” stated the press release.

    HKPR will pump the brakes on certain non-COVID-19 related services to deal with the expected rise in cases this winter.
    This includes pausing sexual health clinics, no-doctor vaccination clinics for children, Healthy Babies Healthy Children programming and some inspection services.

    All those over 50 are now eligible for a third shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. To book an appointment visit: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/ or by calling 1-833-943-3900 (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007).