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Kawartha Lakes health unit provides update on vaccine plan

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) has provided an update on their plans for when the health unit receives the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We’ve got a plan, we just don’t have the vaccine,” HKPR Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ian Gemmill said, during a press conference, on Wednesday, January 20th.

They are looking forward to beginning the vaccination phase with those who work or live in long-term care.

“We are ready to go, as soon as we’ve got vaccine[s] available, with a focus on the residents, and the staff, and the essential caregivers in long-term care. If we’re going to do an iron ring, as alluded to by the Premier, the only hope we have is to do it with the vaccine,” Dr. Gemmill said. “We are waiting, with bated breath, to get the vaccine so we can do exactly that, with our colleagues in long-term care.”

Dr. Gemmill explained, with the shortages of Pfizer vaccines this week, it’s probable HKPR will receive the Moderna vaccine when they get the shipment. A couple other vaccines are still awaiting Health Canada approval.

HKPR has been hard at work on plans to immunize people.

“We have been diverting some of our attention from the control measures to planning for immunization. We have, in the past, had a mass immunization plan. What we have done in the last few weeks is to review it and to make it more specific to coronavirus. This plan will be submitted to the Ministry of Health later this week,” Dr. Gemmill stated.

There is one factor, which will determine how quickly the local area can be vaccinated.

“The speed with which the general population will be protected will be determined by one factor only, and that is the supply of vaccines,” Dr. Gemmill stressed.

HKPR is hopeful to receive the vaccines early in February, and to be able then to start the first phase of vaccinations. The local health unit expects more vaccines to be available in March, for the next phase, which would include other essential workers, older adults and then the general population.

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