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Long-term care, retirement home residents in Simcoe Muskoka begin to receive COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 immunization program began in long-term care homes on Monday, after the Ontario government decided that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine could safely be transported to long-term care and retirement homes. . Supplied

Residents in Simcoe County and Muskoka long-term care facilities are beginning to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, while retirement home residents will start getting it next week.

The COVID-19 immunization program began in long-term care homes on Monday, after the Ontario government decided that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine could safely be transported to long-term care and retirement homes.

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“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on both the residents and employees in long-term care and being able to offer the protection this vaccine provides to those who are the most vulnerable is a critical milestone,” Dr. Charles Gardner, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s medical officer of health, said in a statement.

“We are hoping everyone who opts for the vaccine within our LTC and RH communities to have received it over the next two weeks.”

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Pat Sinclair, an 80-year-old resident at Barrie, Ont.’s Victoria Village Manor, was the first long-term care resident to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Simcoe Muskoka.

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“I’m thrilled to be able to do this,” Sinclair said in a statement. “I’m hoping it gives me and my family that feeling of we’re OK, we’re going to be OK.”

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Through a pilot immunization program on Monday, 111 Victoria Village Manor residents and 67 residents at Oak Terrace Long-Term Care Home in Orillia received the vaccine.

“This will be a game changer for long-term care and congregate settings. It will level the playing field,” said Bill Krever, Victoria Village’s president and CEO.

“As the number of COVID-19 cases increases in this region, the availability of this vaccine to our residents couldn’t have come at a better time.”

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To date, the COVID-19 vaccine has only been administered to priority groups who’ve been invited to Barrie’s coronavirus immunization clinic, which opened on Dec. 22, 2020.

Since then, more than 8,100 doses of the vaccine have been administered to long-term care and retirement home staff, essential caregivers and prioritized hospital workers. Priority groups will continue to be invited to be immunized at the clinic, which is one of the busiest in Ontario.