Efforts to vaccinate southeastern long-term care patients continue despite Pfizer delays

Health officials in the southeastern region are trying to adapt their vaccination plans due to delays in Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines to Canada. (Photo by Matthew Manor/KHSC)

Health officials in the southeastern region say they are still trying to complete coronavirus vaccinations for long-term care patients within the three health units, despite Pfizer vaccine delays announced this week.

On Thursday, Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for the KFL&A region, said it was still the goal to get roughly 5,000 long-term care patients vaccinated by Feb. 15, but that long-term care workers and essential caregivers will have to wait.

Read more: Canada will receive zero Pfizer vaccine deliveries during last week of January

Our goal now, it’s had to be flexible and adaptive, is to try to provide the first dose of vaccine for every patient in a long-term care facility or high-risk retirement home at present, and then once availability increases, we’ll work back to continue to immunize the workers and the essential caregivers,” he said.

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Moore said there are about 5,000 long-term care workers and essential caregivers in the region that will be next in line for the vaccines.

The southeastern region, which includes the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, Leeds, Grenville and Lanark and Hastings and Prince Edward, received its first shipment of vaccines Jan. 12.

All three health units have since administered the roughly 1,900 first-dose Pfizer vaccines, first through clinics at Kingston General Hospital, but then through mobile clinics run by local health units.

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According to a news release from Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), the region has since received a second 1,900-dose shipment.

“We are aware that due to work to expand its European manufacturing facility, production of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVD-19 vaccine will be reduced for a few weeks and will impact deliveries to Canada. We are working with our partners to adjust our plans accordingly,” said KHSC president Dr. David Pichora.

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Moore added that he hopes to receive Moderna vaccines the first week of February to supplement the Pfizer vaccines that will no longer be coming.

“We’ll be able to give second doses of Moderna, we think, to the vast majority of the patients who get the first dose of Moderna,” he said.

Read more: Kingston public health hopes to immunize 120,000 locals against coronavirus by fall

The problem right now, is whether those who have already received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine will be able to receive their second dose within the preferred 21- to 28-day period.

Moore said that the southeastern region may receive help from other parts of the province to accomplish that goal.

“We’re anxiously anticipating, I hope, a redistribution of whatever’s available in the province for Pfizer to KFL&A to ensure that our patients get their second dose of Pfizer, and also long-term care workers and essential caregivers. We haven’t heard yet,” he said.

He added that the delays in the Pfizer vaccines are meant to be short-term, and that the overall goal is to vaccinate 120,000 people locally before September remains in place.

“That’s our goal and the plan at present. And clearly things can change, but we’re ramping up aggressively to be prepared for when the amount of vaccine will really be there to have our community protected,” he said.