Hamilton and Halton hospitals will get the COVID-19 vaccine in the next 2 weeks
Hamilton public health says vaccine will come at a 'pivotal time' with rising case numbers
Hospitals in Hamilton and Halton are on the list of sites that will receive doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine over the next two weeks.
The province released a list of the 17 hospitals on Friday, including Halton Healthcare and Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS).
Health officials say the doses will be given to health-care workers in high-risk settings such as long-term care homes or hospitals first, followed by other priority populations.
Locally, staff with HHS and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, as well as primary care physicians and paramedics, are working to set up the city's first COVID-19 vaccination clinic for people who work in long-term care, the city says.
Teams across the health-care sector are also working to ensure the vaccines are handed out "effectively and equitably" once they arrive.
A media release from the city says the Hamilton clinic won't be open to the general public and will be based on appointments only.
Michelle Baird, director of Hamilton Public Health Services, described the news the vaccine is coming to Hamilton as "very uplifting."
"It has come at a pivotal time in our community when we are seeing a high number of outbreaks in our congregate care settings, an unfortunate number of deaths, and rising daily case counts," she said in the city's media release.
"We are looking forward to working with our hospital partners on getting this momentous project off the ground with hopes of having a positive impact on the health and wellness of our community."
Each of the 17 sites, which includes areas with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection, have the facilities to store the vaccine at –70 C, and staff there are ready to receive and start distributing shots, the province says.
Ontario expects 9,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses from the federal government by the end of the year and will continue vaccinating health-care workers, essential care givers and staff in senior care homes and hospitals, according to a media release.
The province says it has already administered 2,300 doses as part of its pilot project in Toronto and Ottawa.
"While we are planning to ensure that everyone who wants a vaccine will receive one, we need to first protect our frontline workers and those providing essential care to our most vulnerable," said Health Minister Christine Elliott.
Gary Carr, chair of Halton Region, thanked staff at Halton Healthcare and public health for all the work they put into planning the first phase of the vaccine.
"Since March, health care workers have been on the frontline of this fight, making significant sacrifices in their own lives to help others," he said. "I am in support of the province's plan to make sure that these heroes are front of the line for the first doses of this monumental vaccine."
More hospitals are expected to receive the vaccine in the new year, and Hamilton says it expects everyone who wants the vaccine will be able to get it, for free, by the end of 2021.
"This expanded distribution list is fantastic news and allows us to continue to test and refine our vaccination rollout plan," said retired general Rick Hillier in Friday's media release from the province.
"This is the next important step that gets us ready for all of Ontario in 2021."