By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
Canada has more vaccination options, and Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health is hoping to open up the vaccination clinic to the general local population in just a few weeks.
On Friday, Canada approved its fourth COVID-19 vaccine after giving the green light to the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“I see the supply lines opening up tremendously, and being able to accelerate through the phases where we have to prioritize who needs it most and I’m really hoping that within a very few weeks, we’ll be able to offer the vaccine to everybody that wants it,” Dr. David Colby, told reporters on Thursday, before the Johnson & Johnson announcement.
More than 7,000 people were vaccinated by the end of Thursday at long-term care homes and at the John D. Bradley Convention Centre, which was converted into the local vaccination clinic.
Colby noted that there are five times more people vaccinated than people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the community. To date, Chatham-Kent’s cumulative total sits at 1,356 cases after C-K Public Health reported no new cases on Friday morning and one recovery. The active total sits at 11.
Chatham-Kent has only inoculated its residents with the two-shot Moderna or Pfizer vaccines to date. Recently, Canada approved the two-shot AstraZeneca vaccine showed an effectiveness of about 62 per cent in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 disease. Supplies of the vaccine are expected to be delivered to Ontario locations later this month.
The difference between the number of shots with Johnson & Johnson and the efficacy difference between vaccines now leaves questions unanswered about distribution and prioritization which Colby said CK Public Health will wait for provincial direction on.
At the moment, residents are unable to choose the particular vaccine they get due to the limited supply. In the future, when more are available, there may be some choice depending on the setting in which residents get vaccinated.
Colby said Chatham-Kent’s supply for the week is depleted and it is unclear when more will be available.
“That’s been difficult and that’s a trickle down effect from the federal government. I’m not laying blame. The provision of vaccines is a complicated undertaking. It involves negotiating with multinational pharmaceutical companies and contracts with a number of targets and so forth,” he said.
Colby said the main focus is to get the vaccine in arms and finish Phase 1 which includes long-term care homes and retirement home residents, staff and essential caregivers as well as other congregate-care settings for seniors, high-priority health-care workers and people aged 80 and over.
“They’re going full steam ahead with that. If we run out, we’ll run out. We are slated to get more,” he said. “I can’t say how much, but the provincial projections are that vaccine supply will be stabilized and ever increasing from now on.”
Right now the John D. Bradley Centre remains open for appointment only for those in Phase 1.