Vaccines slow to a trickle

By Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Vaccines slow to a trickle

CORNWALL, Ontario – COVID-19 vaccinations will slow down to nearly zero due to a shortage in supply from manufacture Pfizer-BioNTech.

The good news is that before supplies ran out, residents in all but one long-term care home in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region have received their first dose of a vaccine.

Facing a shortage in vaccine supply, the provincial government changed vaccination protocols to focus on LTC home residents receiving the vaccine. Staff, caregivers, and volunteers will have to wait until vaccine shipments to Canada resume.

The single LTC home that has not been vaccinated, Lancaster Long Term Care, will not miss out on its vaccinations. Doses have been saved for when the facility is no longer in an outbreak.

EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said that doses of the Moderna vaccine will start going into arms of residents of retirement homes and group homes.

“With the Moderna that we have got, we are going to be doing the high-risk retirement homes,” he explained during his January 25th media update.

In all, 2,267 vaccines have so far been administered by the health unit.

For group homes and other congregate living settings, a similar risk-based assessment will be completed and vaccines given based on the highest risk of an outbreak. As with LTC homes and retirement homes, the type of space, size of the facility, and number of high-risk residents all factor into the priority list.

Roumeliotis said that once more vaccine supply is received, staff and volunteers who were missed in the first round due to shortages will be vaccinated first.

For the second week in a row, overall COVID-19 infections have decreased in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region and continue to trend downward.

“If we continue going downwards, I think the Stay-at-Home order would expire,” Roumeliotis said.

Hospitalization and Intensive Care Unit rates are a key factor, both of which he said needed to stabilize.

“I think the next week is going to be crucial,” Roumeliotis added.

Test positivity, reproductive rate and infections per 100,000 people have all decreased in the past week for the region, and daily infection counts have started to drop provincially. The EOHU region has a test positivity rate of 4.35 per cent, reproductive rate of 0.75 and the rolling seven-day average of infections per 100,000 people is 60.8. One week ago, the seven-day average was 109.9 per 100,000 people, test positivity was 5 per cent, and the reproductive rate was 0.98.

In comparison, Ottawa Public Health reported a reproductive rate of 0.82, any number below 1.0 is an indicator that the pandemic spread is reducing.

The active case count in South Dundas has dropped to three people since last week, and there have been 24 cases since the pandemic began. North Dundas has 14 active cases, and has had 55 cases total. South Stormont has 20 active cases, and 95 cases total.

Cornwall continues to lead the region in active (219) and total (624) cases. Nearly one-quarter of all COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began have been in Cornwall.

As of the January 25th update, there are 499 active cases in the EOHU region, and there have been 2,380 cases since the Novel Coronavirus was first detected in the region 11 months ago.

Twenty-two people from the region are hospitalized, six of those are in the ICU. According to the Ontario Ministry of Health, ICUs in the health unit are at 109 per cent occupancy, and the COVID-19 ICU are at 18 per cent occupancy.

The number of deaths from the virus has increased to 52. Four people, all from LTC homes, died in the last week. There are 17 COVID-19 related outbreaks in facilities in the region, none are in Dundas County. Most of the outbreaks involve staff only and not residents.

Eight staff and seven residents have tested positive for the virus at Glen Stor Dun Lodge, and one person has died at that facility. Riverview Manor in Cornwall, and Woodlawn Villa in Long Sault are among the facilities in outbreak according to the EOHU. A detailed breakdown of how many staff and residents at each facility was not available.

This story was originally written for, and appeared in The Morrisburg Leader.

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