By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Chatham-Kent Public Health (CKPH) is gearing up once again for mass vaccination clinics for those who qualify for a COVID-19 booster.
Residents who are 70 plus; people at risk due to medical conditions; health-care staff, community service workers and caregivers; people who had two shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine; and First Nation, Inuit and Metis adults round out the list of people eligible for the booster.
According to CKPH communications specialist Jeff Moco, the health unit has been dispensing booster shots for the past three weeks to long-term care and retirement home residents who were eligible.
Plans for a full rollout are a go, with the mass vaccination clinic returning to Chatham’s Bradley Centre.
Moco said officials are also preparing for clinics for children age 5 to 11 years, adding public health is preparing to immunize between 700 to 800 youngsters.
As well as the Bradley Centre, clinics are also planned for schools.
Approval of the children’s vaccine is still pending under Health Canada, but it’s expected to be given the green light before the end of the year.
As many as 15,000 shots could be administered locally in December, Moco said.
“We’re planning for the big picture,” Moco explained, adding organizers need to be flexible to accommodate evolving changes in order to “shift as needed.”
Some pharmacies will also be able to provide booster shots.
One of the major changes in the booster rollout is that eligible residents who want the shot are not allowed to do walk-in appointments. Pre-booking is required.
Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby told a recent municipal media scrum he believes the booster will be well received.
“I think uptake will be very, very good,” Colby said.
As of Nov. 2, Ontario has administered more than 22 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 88 per cent of Ontarians aged 12 and over having received at least one dose and more than 84 per cent having received a second dose.
Third doses are being provided based on waning immunity after six months for those who are at risk of severe illness from the virus.
For a full list of eligibility criteria for vulnerable populations please consult: https://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/publichealth/coronavirus/docs/vaccine/COVID-19_vaccine_third_dose_recommendations.pdf
Eligible residents in Chatham-Kent can book their third dose at www.GetYourShotCK.ca or by calling 519-351-1010.
The health unit will continue to partner with Ride CK to provide free transportation for people getting the shot.