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COVID-19 vaccinations underway for staff at Hamilton seniors homes hit hard by outbreaks

The COVID-19 outbreak at Shalom Village has infected 162 people since it was declared on Dec. 9. Diana Weeks / 900 CHML

Hamilton’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic has begun distributing the Pfizer-BioNTech shot to staff from two local seniors homes that are experiencing massive outbreaks.

Hamilton public health is confirming that employees from Grace Villa and Shalom Village began receiving the vaccine on Monday.

Grace Villa is the home of the city’s largest COVID-19 outbreak, with 224 people infected, including 81 staff, and 37 deaths related to the virus since it was declared Nov. 25.

The outbreak at Shalom Village, which was declared Dec. 9, has infected a total of 162 people, including 71 staff, and 16 residents have died.

It’s not clear how long it will take to completely vaccinate staff at local homes with outbreaks, but the Hamilton clinic will now be operating seven days a week in order to serve as many people as possible.

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Read more: Coronavirus: Long-term care staff first in Hamilton to receive COVID-19 vaccine

“It’s more about trying to ensure that all of the homes that we’re working with do have adequate staff to both work in the home and to get vaccinated,” said public health spokesperson Jacqueline Durlov. “So we don’t have a timeline associated with the time it will take to vaccinate everyone.”

The Pfizer shot requires two doses that are given 21 days apart in order to work effectively.

As of Tuesday, the interim CEO at Shalom Village said 20 staff from the west Hamilton facility had been vaccinated, with ten employees receiving a dose each day.

“At ten per day … this is going to take the better part of a month, at least two to three weeks, to get everyone vaccinated,” said Larry Levin during a town hall update.

That includes staff from St. Joseph’s Healthcare, which is providing support at the home through a voluntary management contract that was announced last week.

“We are going to keep working at it and get that job done. Public health wants it done, our families want it done, it’s important. And it’s also important then, to get the vaccine for our residents as soon as possible.”

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Read more: 50,000 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine expected to arrive in Ontario on Wednesday

Residents at long-term care facilities will need to wait for the Moderna vaccine to come to Hamilton, as it doesn’t have the same storage restrictions as the Pfizer shot and can be more easily transported to various locations.

Durlov told Global News on Wednesday that the city is hoping to learn more from the province about when it can expect shipments of the Moderna vaccine sometime next week, with an update for the public ideally coming within the next two weeks.

In the meantime, public health is hoping to increase capacity at the vaccination clinic with extended hours.

It will also be operating on New Year’s Day after all clinics in Ontario were closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

The province was criticized by the opposition NDP and prominent physicians for putting vaccinations on hold over the holidays.

Hamilton’s clinic was not operating on Sunday, but it was one of ten in the province that was up and running on Monday.

Click to play video: 'PSW at Parkview Nursing Centre is first person in Hamilton, Ontario to receive COVID-19 vaccine'
PSW at Parkview Nursing Centre is first person in Hamilton, Ontario to receive COVID-19 vaccine

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