Hamilton COVID-19 vaccination efforts aim to reach general public by September

Merdina Nangle-Palmer was the first person in Hamilton to receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Hamilton Health Sciences

Hamilton has released its COVID-19 vaccination rollout plan, with the goal of vaccinating three-quarters of residents by the end of 2021.

During an update to the Board of Health on Monday, officials from the city’s public health department outlined who will receive doses of the existing Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in phases that have been established by the province.

As of Jan. 10, about 5,800 long-term care and health care workers in Hamilton have received their first dose of the Pfizer shot, and many of those same workers will receive their second dose this week.

Long-term care residents are also beginning to receive the vaccine in Hamilton, and all of the city’s residents in those facilities are expected to have received their first dose by next Monday.

The Moderna vaccine is scheduled to arrive in Hamilton this week, according to public health, which will help the city vaccinate more residents in long-term care.

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Read more: Hamilton’s COVID-19 mobile clinic begins vaccinating at high-risk long-term care, retirement homes

Those residents and workers are among the priority populations that are scheduled to receive the vaccine first as part of the province’s vaccination rollout framework.

Other groups that will be immunized in phase one include Indigenous populations and adults in the community who receive chronic home health care.

Phase two of the vaccine rollout framework will expand to include more congregate living situations like shelters, as well as more seniors living in the community, and will see the vaccine becoming more widely available in other clinic locations like pharmacies and primary care physicians.

Phase three will see all available versions of the vaccine being accessible to the general public, and is expected to begin by September.

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton’s chief medical officer of health, said she understands that everyone is anxious to receive the vaccine as soon as possible, but said the logistics of distribution mean that it takes time to do everything correctly.

“Putting a needle in an arm is not that hard, but all the things that get to the point of being able to put a needle in the arm are very challenging,” said Dr. Richardson.

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Read more: Hamilton reports 155 new COVID-19 cases, Niagara says 471 new cases tied to backlog

She also noted that the province’s framework may also change if the vaccine supply increases and allows more people to receive the shot at an earlier point than the timeline initially suggests.

The city has set up a COVID-19 vaccine information page to dispel myths and provide residents with more information as it becomes available.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger reminded councillors and fellow board of health members on Monday that public health measures will continue to be crucial in keeping the virus from spreading while everyone waits for their vaccine doses.

“We all want the effort to be, get it in the arms of individuals as soon as possible. But the prioritization of that is going to be messy and complicated, and the next few months are going to be a challenge, given the increase in cases.

“So we’re all in it together. We need to see our way through this.”

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
PSW at Parkview Nursing Centre is first person in Hamilton, Ontario to receive COVID-19 vaccine – Dec 23, 2020

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