Niagara to get first doses of COVID-19 vaccines this week

Boston Medical Center Begins Vaccinating Staff. Photo by Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Niagara Health says the first of 11,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 are expected to arrive on Wednesday.

The agency says the rollout of its vaccination plan in the Niagara Region will begin this week and will be following the risk-based prioritization guidelines suggested by the province.

“We have planned aggressively and are well prepared to begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine in Niagara,” says Lynn Guerriero, president and interim CEO of Niagara Health.

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The initiative will start by vaccinating front-line health-care workers in long-term care homes (LTCH), high-risk retirement homes and the vaccine clinic at the St. Catharines site.

Teams will also be deployed to a number of high-risk retirement and long-term care homes over the next few weeks to immunize residents using the same influenza protocols used by the agency each year.

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“Almost 80% of those who’ve died in Niagara—150 people in our community—have been among these residents; 72 of them have died in the last 3 weeks alone. Vaccine will let us immunize these residents and their care providers, and begin to end this tragedy,” acting medical officer of health Dr. Mustafa Hirji said in a statement.

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Vaccinations for the general public are expected in a third phase set for later in 2021 based on the province’s vaccination framework.

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The region’s allotment of 11,000 doses will be delivered over a three-week period, according to Niagara Health.

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Niagara Region reports 117 new COVID-19 cases

After reporting the region’s single highest daily number of new COVID-19 cases on Monday, Niagara recorded just 117 new cases on Tuesday.

The region’s active cases dropped slightly from 1,438 as of Monday to 1,429 on Jan. 12.

The region has 51 active outbreaks, 29 are at health-care facilities, including 12 in St. Catharines and seven in Niagara Falls.

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Niagara Health is managing a number of current outbreaks, including six in the agency’s hospitals in Niagara Falls and St. Catharines.

There are 59 active coronavirus cases in the outbreak at the Greater Niagara general site. Eleven people have died among outbreaks in five hospital units.

Two outbreaks at the St.Catharines site involve 10 cases among staff members with five from the emergency department.

The largest of the current outbreaks is at Oakwood Park Lodge which has had 237 coronavirus cases since the surge began on Dec. 12. The home has seen 30 COVID-19-related deaths. The home currently has just 11 active cases as of Monday.

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The second outbreak at Millennium Trail Manor has been going on since Dec. 18 and now has 62 cases among 36 residents and 26 staff members. The home has had 11 deaths tied to the coronavirus, according to Niagara Health.

The agency says 80 patients are being treated in the region’s hospitals for the virus.

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Eighty-six of the region’s 196 deaths during the coronavirus crisis involve patients that have died at Niagara Health hospitals.

Overall, Niagara has had 5,792 total positive cases since the pandemic began.