C-K tops for vaccination rollout in Canada: Colby


Businesses asked to provide flexibility during vaccination process

By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative

Chatham-Kent is speeding through its vaccination rollout, which has put it No. 1 across the country.

According to Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health, the municipality has given the most first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine per 100,000 residents out of all of Ontario’s and Canada’s public health regions. The data is based on the national vaccination tracker.

“Our little community has once again hit the ball out of the park,” Colby said.

As of Thursday morning, more than 11,500 residents had been inoculated, making up roughly 10.3 per cent of Chatham-Kent’s total population.

Chatham-Kent is currently taking in residents aged 75 and over for vaccinations at the clinic. Colby noted that “very shortly” Ontarians will be able to go to other jurisdictions to get their vaccines.

“So I think this is going to be a kind of automatic levelling factor at least on a regional basis,” he said.

Vaccine rollout is expected to pick up across the province after the provincial government announced on Wednesday that pharmacies and primary care settings can start booking vaccine appointments. The news comes after the one-shot AstraZeneca vaccine was approved which only requires refrigeration as opposed to freezing, making it easier for pharmacies to distribute on their own.

Chatham-Kent has not yet received that vaccine. It will be available to Ontarians aged 60-64.

Colby says he has not heard a definitive date for when Chatham-Kent can join the rollout process, but suspects it could happen as soon as next week. There are three public health units – Toronto, Windsor, and Kingston – which are currently testing out the pilot project as the government trains pharmacists on distribution and data entry.

“We want to get first doses into people as soon as possible,” said Colby.

However, according to Mayor Darrin Canniff, and Colby, that can’t happen unless businesses are flexible with time off for their employees.

According to a press release from Economic Development, it has been identified that some workers have concerns about being able to attend the vaccination clinic, located at the John D. Bradley Convention Centre in Chatham, during work hours.

“We need to make sure the vaccination process is as efficient as possible,” Canniff said. “We want to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible. We need to make sure that things are efficient on the clinic side of things and that there’s flexibility on the employers side of things.”

“I’ve been talking with officials from Public Health and we know that every shot in the arm gets us one step closer to making COVID a thing of the past and to fully re-open our economy,” said Stuart McFadden, Director of Chatham-Kent Economic Development. “To all of the businesses across Chatham-Kent, we need your help in making sure your employees feel they are given the time they require to get the vaccination at their scheduled appointment time.”

Economic Development also encouraged employees to get vaccinated, noting that the province has warned of a potential third wave that may result in a third lockdown.

READ MORE: Any more lockdowns will kill small biz: owners





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