Multiple vaccination clinics have officially opened in Durham, which means residents who are aged 80 and over can now get immunized against COVID-19.
“I’ve been kind of hoping for it,” said Jim Boyle who was first in line to be vaccinated at Pickering’s Chestnut Hill Developments Recreation Centre.
Boyle says he’s relieved to finally get some protection against the virus.
In addition to the Pickering site, vaccination clinics in Oshawa and Clarington also opened Tuesday. The region says once all eight vaccination clinics are up and running, the goal will be to immunize 10,000 people a day. Information on when other clinics will be opening can be found on the Durham Region website.
Dr. Robert Kyle, Durham’s medical officer of health, says staff have been preparing for weeks to open immunization clinics.
“(It was) a massive undertaking. We have quite a number of people in place,” he said.
“It has involved 10s, if not 20s, 30s … I’m probably underestimating the number of people who have been involved.”
Upon entering the Pickering site, visitors will be screened and will be asked to provide ID and confirm their appointment. They will then receive their shot. Staff say the entire process should take about 20 minutes.
“If you’re feeling unwell we’ll definitely monitor you for a little bit longer,” said Durham public health nurse Kaylee Rockett.
“If you are the one in a million person who has an anaphylactic reaction we are equipped at every clinic to deal with that.”
Visitors are asked to arrive no more than five minutes before their appointment time.
When asked about staffing levels and limitations of only having one of three Canadian-approved vaccines, Dr. Kyle said he’s confident the region will maintain sufficient resources to maximize its vaccine rollout efficiency.
“It’s a pressure point, but we’re confident we will be fully staffed and we will be optimizing our performance as the pieces fall into place.”
He adds staff are only able to book appointments for as far in advance as supply will last before the next allocation, which he estimates is one to two weeks. The region is expected to get shipments of the Moderna vaccine in the coming weeks.
However, despite a rigorous online and in-person screening process, there are concerns around ineligible or non-priority populations lying to cut the queue.
Ontario’s implementation of an honour system will allow those with underlying health conditions to get their vaccinations early, no matter their age. Bioethicist Kerry Bowman says there is a “significant risk” people could take advantage of the system.
“We need to stress that it’s morally wrong to misrepresent your health status to get ahead of the queue. You’re causing harm to other people by doing that,” he said.
For his part, Bowman hopes this won’t be the case.
When asked if queue-jumping was a concern, Dr. Kyle said, “We’re going to have to figure that out, aren’t we.”
“That’s Phase 2. I’m focused on Phase 1. We want to get our 80-plus-year-olds vaccinated and continue with our priority health-care workers.”