Windsor

Pelee Island residents eagerly await vaccination clinic that opens mid-April

Some residents of Pelee Island say they're grateful that a COVID-19 vaccination clinic will open up for two days — April 19 and 20— on the island, as announced by the Township of Pelee on Wednesday.

The deputy mayor says the island hasn't seen any cases since the onset of the pandemic

Sue Rice, 50, says she looks forward to getting vaccinated, especially since she has autoimmune issues. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

Some residents of Pelee Island say they're grateful that a COVID-19 vaccination clinic will open up for two days — April 19 and 20 — on the island, as announced by the Township of Pelee on Wednesday.

Unlike many other clinics, this one is open to permanent residents who are 18 years and older. Those who are eligible can schedule an appointment next week.

David Dawson, the island's deputy mayor, said while the vaccines are open to younger people, the community has a significant number of senior residents.

"I think that was really the urgency behind it," he said, adding that the community has been diligent and cautious throughout the pandemic — no cases have ever been reported on the island.

Dawson said the community has been vocal in pushing for a clinic and is happy to see the efforts "come to fruition."

"I think the idea that they're coming and going to do the entire island is pretty incredible," he said.

According to the township's website, the island has nearly 300 permanent residents.

While Pelee Island isn't a COVID-19 hotspot, the area is slated for vaccination because it's a remote community, said Theresa Marentette, CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

The vaccines are arriving through ORNGE air ambulance, she said.

"The province is providing vaccine for everyone that is a resident of the island. And so, we are happy that they're able to access the vaccine right there," she said at the health unit's daily briefing on Thursday.

Sue Rice, 50, said she looks forward to getting vaccinated, especially since she has autoimmune issues.

"Knowing that I'm vaccinated, making me less likely to carry COVID makes me feel like a really good neighbour," she said.

Vicki Gardner, 52, says she's happy to see a vaccination clinic pop up as it brings her community "one step closer to freedom." (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

"For us to know that we're one step closer to having everyone come back and see us again and sit outside and watch the sunset together is ... a good feeling," she added.

Rice explained that many of the older residents are reluctant to travel outside of the island for essential shopping, but the vaccinations will change that.

"I think there's been so much fear and hesitancy about travelling even to go get groceries here. We have a great little store on the island, but to get more supplies and different things ... we have to leave the island to do that. So this will allow for essential travel to feel a little safer, which is great," she said.

'We're lucky,' says one resident

Vicki Gardner, 52, is another resident who's happy to see a vaccination clinic pop up, though she wished it could have come sooner.

"A lot of staying at home this winter, I actually only went to my daughters who was around the corner up the road twice. So everybody here, for the most part, has been laying really low and just trying to keep the older ones safe," she said.

She also said she understands that the community is fortunate as many others outside of the island are still waiting for their vaccine.

"I realize that we're lucky and I think a lot of people will take advantage of it," she said.

"It's one step closer to maybe some more freedom."

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