January 15, 2021 - The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) in partnership with the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) announces that the delivery and administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in long-term care homes has now begun.
“This is an exciting time. With the vaccine here in our area and the ability to move it around, we are entering a new phase in our battle against this virus,” said Dr. Janet DeMille, Medical Officer of Health, TBDHU. “Protecting long-term care homes is a very important first priority. This is another encouraging milestone in our COVID-19 response.”
The Provincial government recently provided guidance permitting the Pfizer COVID-19, vaccine to be moved to locations outside of where it is stored. COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on both residents and staff in long-term care and retirement homes. This development brings us a step closer to helping protect those in the community who need it most.
“Making the vaccine available to our community is our focus and priority,” said Dr. Rhonda Crocker Ellacott, President & CEO, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. “The shift to providing vaccines at long-term care homes is a complex and collaborative process between partners who share a common goal of vaccinating as many people, as soon as possible. I am proud that, to date, we have administered over 1,100 doses in our community”
TBDHU has the overall responsibility for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program in the health unit area. TBRHSC has played an integral role since late December both in receiving and storing the Pfizer vaccine as well as administering the vaccine to priority groups through their on-site clinics. Through these clinics, staff of long-term care homes were one of the first groups immunized. Building on this initial experience, TBDHU and TBRHSC worked together with the six long-term care homes in Thunder Bay to move forward with immunizing within the homes themselves, primarily focusing on the residents.
While the focus currently is on the long-term care homes in Thunder Bay, planning is also underway regarding long-term care homes outside of Thunder Bay and to other vulnerable settings including retirement homes and congregate settings housing seniors. Recently, the Government has committed to ensuring that first doses of the vaccine are administered to residents, staff, and essential caregivers in long-term care homes by mid-February.
As part of the larger roll-out for the TBDHU area, Public health is actively engaging partners, including District and First Nation partners, in the development and implementation of the broader plan. Further details will be provided shortly.
TBDHU continues to encourage everyone to follow all public health measures to protect the health of individuals and our health system. If you develop any COVID-19 symptoms, even mild ones, isolate immediately and arrange to get tested at your local assessment centre.
Visit the TBDHU Website for more information or contact TBDHU at (807) 625-5900 or tollfree: 1-888-294-6630.
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Dr. Rhonda Crocker Ellacott is available for interviews between 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm. If you are interested, please phone (807) 621-9438 to arrange your appointment.