Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre to distribute COVID-19 Vaccines
by Tracie Smith
The COVID-19 vaccine is coming to Thunder Bay. Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre has been identified as a site for the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine, which includes collaborative planning with partners.
“Making the vaccine available to the people of our community is our focus and priority,” said Dr. Rhonda Crocker Ellacott, President & CEO of the Hospital. Priority populations to receive the vaccine have been announced by the province and the Hospital will follow provincial direction in the distribution and implementation plan. “Although the situation is evolving, we are excited to begin the process of vaccination as soon as possible. Various hospitals across Ontario will begin to receive vaccine in the coming weeks, and we are working to ensure logistics, timing, assessment and administration is coordinated and seamless. This historic initiative requires extensive coordination and partnership, and we look forward to moving ahead.”
With expertise in community-based publicly-funded immunization programs, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit is an essential partner in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
“The news of vaccine availability in our area is very exciting and the initial vaccine roll-out will provide valuable protection for high risk groups. The full roll out in our region will happen but it will take time,” noted Dr. Janet DeMille, Medical Officer of Health, Thunder Bay District Health Unit. “This does not mean we can let our guards down. Until the vaccines are widely available, we must all remain vigilant and follow the public health guidelines.”
With Health Canada’s recent approval of the Pfizer vaccine and several other vaccines undergoing federal review, all three levels of government are preparing for vaccine distribution. The Hospital is planning with local and regional partners in health and beyond to identify and organize this phase of the vaccine roll-out.
This is an evolving situation. No further information can be provided at this time. Our Hospital is committed to sharing updates as appropriate as details are confirmed.
The COVID-19 vaccine distribution initiative involves essential roles for all levels of government. At a federal level, the Government of Canada is responsible for the overall procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and ensuring their safety and effectiveness through approval by Health Canada. The Province of Ontario is leading the overall immunization strategy for Ontario and identifying who will get the vaccine first. At a local level, municipalities and key stakeholders are collaborating for the planning and rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes coordinated efforts for the distribution, administration, and public communication of the vaccine.
The Ontario government has developed a three-phase implementation plan to receive, store and administer COVID-19 vaccines to Ontarians as soon as they are received. Phase One will begin on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 with a pilot project in Toronto and Ottawa which will include the vaccination of over 2,500 health care workers with the Health Canada approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Phase One will continue with the following key milestones:
- Based on per capita allocations, an expected 90,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses received from the federal government will be delivered to up to 14 hospital sites in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones in December, to vaccinate health care workers in hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and other congregate settings caring for seniors.
- Deliveries of an expected 35,000 to 85,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, once approved, will enable vaccinations to be expanded to long-term care homes in the Grey-Lockdown areas.
- In early 2021, expansion of additional hospital sites providing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones, with continued vaccination provided to health care workers and, with the appropriate safety protocols, to long-term care home and retirement home residents.
- It is anticipated that by end of January over 20 hospitals across the province will be administering the Pfizer vaccine.
- An expansion of the number of locations to administer the Moderna vaccine would include long-term care homes, retirement homes, public heath units, other congregate care settings for seniors, and adults in First Nations, Métis and Indigenous populations.