CORNWALL, Ontario – In his first COVID-19 update to the media of 2021, on Tuesday, Jan. 5, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health stated that the first doses of Pfizer’s vaccine will arrive in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) the next week.
It will be a thawed version of the vaccine, which will be good to distribute for up-to five days. The Pfizer vaccine requires extreme cold temperatures to be stored over the long-term, around -70 degrees Celsius. Future shipments of the vaccine will be sent to the Hawkesbury Hospital which has fridges cold enough to store the vaccine.
Dr. Roumeliotis said that the EOHU will be working with hospitals to setup five vaccination sites in the region. The top priority for receiving vaccinations will be residents, staff of long-term care facilities, and essential visitors, as well as frontline workers and Indigenous residents.
Dr. Roumeliotis expects this first phase of vaccine distribution to be finished at the end of the month, after which, seniors and those with pre-existing conditions will be next in line. Dr. Roumeliotis went on to explain that he also expects supplies of the Morderna vaccine and Astra Zeneca vaccine to be in the region soon as well.
The sites for vaccination will be announced in the coming week.
Before the vaccine becomes widely available at doctors offices and pharmacies, the EOHU plans to have mass vaccination sites in the region.
“Yes, we have a light at the end of the tunnel, be a bit more patient,” said Dr. Roumeliotis. “We will get back to our lives before the pandemic.”
For now, Dr. Roumeliotis said, the restrictions must remain in place.
“I don’t think we will go from 50 people gatherings to 10,000 people gatherings, it will be slow and progressive,” he said.
The EOHU region is currently reporting 489 active COVID-19 cases in the region, however, they stated that that number may be revised down by around 50 with Dr. Roumeliotis explaining that there may have been some overlap in the number of cases reported on Jan. 4.
When broken down by municipality, the EOHU currently reports 139 active COVID-19 cases in Cornwall, 20 in the northern portion of Akwesasne, 44 in South Glengarry, 21 in South Stormont, 10 in South Dundas, 12 in North Dundas, six in North Stormont, 24 in North Glengarry, 17 in Hawkesbury, 16 in Champlain, 16 in The Nation, 11 in Casselman, 40 in Russell, 82 in Clarence-Rockland, and 31 in Alfred and Plantagenet.
On the provincial scale, the EOHU would be considered to be in level Gray, which would put the region in a lockdown, if there had not already been one in place since Dec. 26, 2020.
There have been 1730 cases of COVID-19 in the region since March of 2020, with seven currently hospitalized and 34 deaths.