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‘We’ve got a plan, we just don’t have the vaccine’: HKPR District Health Unit

Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. Global News File

The target for COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPRDHU) jurisdiction is early February.

The acting medical officer of health says the health unit has a plan that’s ready to go once the vaccines arrive.

It starts with long-term care homes.

Read more: Coronavirus — HKPR Health Unit expects first phase of vaccines to arrive in early February

“If we’re going to do an iron ring (around the homes), as alluded to by the premier, the only hope we have is to do it with the vaccine,” said Dr. Ian Gemmill.

“We’re waiting with bated breath to get the vaccine to do exactly that.”

As for how long it will take to vaccinate all of those in long-term care, Gemmill told reporters on the weekly media videoconference that it should be fairly quick.

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“I expect we’ll be in the four figures on a daily basis,” he said.

“The fact that it’s not a mass place where everyone goes, we have to go to them, may diminish the efficiency somewhat, but it’s priority number one and we’ll get it done as quickly as we can.”

After residents and workers at long-term care and high-risk retirement homes are vaccinated, the next priority for HKPRDHU is health-care workers and those in home care.

Gemmill says as more vaccine becomes available in March, other essential workers, older adults and eventually the rest of the general population will be vaccinated, should they want to be.

He also noted the recent lockdown and stay-at-home order is lowering the number of new cases in the area.

Over the last two weeks, the HKPRDHU was confirming 10 to 15 new cases per day. That number has fallen off over the last few days, with only four new cases reported on Wednesday.

“Restrictions can stop and hold back the spread but they can’t be in place forever. That’s why we need the vaccine to protect the population so we can protect the population and get back to normal,” Gemmill said.

Read more: Coronavirus — 2 new cases in City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland, 16 resolved cases

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The HKPRDHU is also reporting nine outbreaks, some at long-term care homes, including Hope Street Terrace in Port Hope, Golden Plough Lodge in Cobourg and Warkworth Place.

When asked by Global News Peterborough how vaccinations would work at long-term care homes that are currently experiencing an outbreak, and whether those homes would be given priority, Gemmill said the HKPRDHU may not be able to do the exact unit or floor that was in an outbreak.

“I would certainly give high priority to the rest of the place,” he said.

The HKPRDHU is working with municipalities in Northumberland and Haliburton counties as well as the City of Kawartha Lakes on finding venues, such as larger arenas, for vaccination sites.

A drive-thru vaccination clinic could also be implemented.

The health unit is reviewing its mass immunization plan and amending it to be more specific for coronavirus.

That plan will be submitted to the Ministry of Health later this week.

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