Kitchener-Waterloo

Local officials confident in secure storage of COVID-19 vaccines

With more COVID-19 vaccines flowing into the area, officials in Waterloo region and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph are ensuring the physical safety of what some have described as "liquid gold."

Vaccine distribution effort well underway in the region

Health care workers are being vaccinated in Waterloo region and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

With more COVID-19 vaccines flowing into the area, officials in Waterloo region and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph are ensuring the physical safety of what some have described as "liquid gold."

Earlier in the COVID-19 vaccination distribution effort, experts warned of threats from phishing campaigns, organized crime or state actors when forming vaccine security plans, but the head of Waterloo region's vaccine distribution task force says vaccine storage at Grand River Hospital is well-monitored.

"Where [the vaccines are] being stored is in a place that only has accessibility to those required to be there, as well this includes video security in addition to physical security within the facility itself. We also have to be considerate of not only the physical security of the vaccine but in terms of cybersecurity as well," said Shirley Hilton.

Region of Waterloo chair Karen Redman said police have stepped up in the distribution effort.

In addition to loaning Hilton, who is a deputy chief and a 30-year member of the Waterloo Regional Police Service, to manage vaccine distribution other officers have also been dedicated to the effort. 

"They have dedicated full time personnel to making sure that almost a paramilitary roll-out of something that some people have called liquid gold," said Redman.

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Meanwhile, Dr. Nicola Mercer, CEO and medical officer of health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, said the health care building in Guelph where vaccines are stored is fully secure. 

From video surveillance to alarm systems — there are multiple security layers in place to ensure the vaccine is safe and secure. 

"I can assure you that the vaccines we have on site are being well-protected and well monitored," said Mercer. 

"It's not just monitored on site, it's not just alarmed, it's not just that the freezer itself is actually wired into the walls so that the plug can't come out. It's on a backup generator. It's remotely monitored, so we have real time monitoring of all our vaccines, not just this one," she added.

She said public health has acquired the appropriate equipment and community partnerships to ensure the safety of vaccines when they become more mobile across the region.

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