1st round of long-term care resident vaccinations complete: Southwestern Public Health

Maple Manor Nursing Home in Tillsonburg, Ont. Maple Manor Nursing Home /

Southwestern Public Health says its first round of COVID-19 vaccinations for all eligible long-term care home residents in the region is complete.

The health unit says more than 1,100 residents were inoculated with their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine between Jan. 12 and 25 and that residents will receive their second dose within 21 to 27 days of the first dose, as directed by the province.

Read more: ‘A senicide’: Strategic missteps, logistical hurdles plague Ontario’s early vaccine rollout

Residents who have already had COVID-19 were not vaccinated.

“At the moment, anybody who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus is assumed to already have developed some immunity to the COVID virus naturally through their infection,” medical officer Dr. Joyce Lock explained.

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“And so for now, anybody who has been tested before to be positive is not getting any vaccine because we want to save the few vaccine doses we have for those that don’t have any immunity at all.”

SWPH says the vaccinations were administered with support of long-term care home staff and administrators, as well as SWPH’s COVID-19 Immunizations Task Force, Oxford County Paramedic Services, and Medavie EMS service.

“This is a very hopeful moment in this pandemic for our communities,” said task force manager Jaime Fletcher.

“We will work diligently, despite supply and logistics challenges, to continue this positive momentum as we move into the next stage of this journey.”

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According to SWPH, the province informed regional health units earlier this month “about a projected shortage in vaccine supply due to Pfizer’s expansion of its European facility.”

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While the health unit says long-term care residents in the region will receive their second dose within 21 to 27 days of the first dose, all others who’ve received their first dose will receive their second dose “within an expanded interval of up to 42 days.”

“This guidance on dosing intervals is aligned with the updated NACI, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, it’s aligned with their recommendations on the use of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. It is also consistent with the recommendations from the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control,” Lock said.

“So, people can be reassured that we are sticking within the guidelines despite the change in the dosing interval. Studies have shown that even receiving one dose of the vaccine provides protection against symptoms of COVID-19, while the second dose ensures a robust immune response.”

Read more: Advisory group says speeding up vaccine rollout to Ontario LTC homes would prevent deaths, cases

The health unit says residents in high-risk retirement homes are the next priority group and first dose vaccinations began for that group on Tuesday.

“It is important that we all work together to keep each other healthy until we realize the benefits of this immunization program. Until then, keep up with the measures that are protecting your health and that of your loved ones,” Lock said.

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As of Wednesday, no new institutional outbreaks have been declared and no previous outbreaks have been deemed resolved but 12 are ongoing, including the region’s oldest and most severe outbreak at Maple Manor Nursing Home.

Further details can be found here. At least 24 institutional outbreaks have been declared in the region during the pandemic.

— with files from Global News’ Matthew Trevithick.

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