The first to receive a dose of the vaccine was Siham Ibrahim, an employee of Chartwell Elmira, a long-term-care residence in Woolwich Township.
Ten other employees from the Elmira home were also vaccinated on Tuesday.
Grand River Hospital president Ron Gagnon says they are hoping to vaccinate 400 people a day once the clinic gets up to speed.
“I would anticipate that we will continue to learn from this clinic and use that learning as we start to spread vaccines throughout the community in the months to follow,” he explained.
The vaccine arrived at the hospital in Kitchener on Monday.
Waterloo Regional Police Deputy Chief Shirley Hilton, who is heading the vaccine distribution task force, says they have “received enough to vaccinate twenty four hundred people.”
The task force has identified staff of long-term-care homes as the first to be inoculated throughout Waterloo Region.
“We are working closely with long-term-care homes to schedule vaccination clinics,” Hilton said.
“Regular clinics will then run throughout December or January, and those receiving the vaccine will be by appointment only.”
Dr Hsiu-Li Wang, the region’s medical officer of health, says that they have come up with a list of criteria to identify which homes will be prioritized.
“We have prioritized homes based on their level of potential risk,” she explained.
She says the layout and density are among that criteria because those homes are hard to keep residents separated once COVID-19 finds its way into the home.
“When you have homes that have a density and layout such that it’s hard to do, that you really increase the risk that it spreads quickly across across the facility,” Wang explained.
“So older homes, homes that have, you know, three to four people per room, the older wardrooms are examples of facilities where there’s a higher risk of spread should COVID get into the facility.”
She said the region’s larger homes will also be among the ones to see staff get the needle first.
“The size of the facility can increase their risk because, there’s more people in the facility they can spread to more residents and staff,” Wang said.
She said if an outbreak is declared at a home, it will not be eligible for immunizations.
“Once it’s out of the outbreak, it will go back into the priority list where it normally should have been,” Wang said.