Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are continuing to make their way across northwestern Ontario’s long-term care homes.

Dr. Kit Young-Hoon, Medical Officer of Health with the Northwestern Health Unit, says after receiving their first shipment of over 300 doses last week, all of the doses have been administered across the region, and 68 per cent of long-term care residents have now been vaccinated.

“100 per cent of doses received have been given to long-term care homes. The province has extended their deadline for vaccinating all long-term care home residents to February 10, due to delays with the delivery of the vaccine. We fully expect to meet that deadline.”

The first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has prioritized those working and living in long-term care homes and remote First Nation communities. Young-Hoon says vaccinations will continue in long-term care homes over the next week to ensure residents receive their first shots.

The second phase of the vaccine’s rollout will depend on availability due to delays with distribution, but it will focus for the elderly, frontline workers and those most-at risk. The remainder of the population is expected to receive a vaccine by the early summer.

“Vaccine supply comes in as we need it and as it’s available to the province. After this week and next week, future vaccine allocations are uncertain. That information does change regularly, as the vaccine supply is not necessarily stable at this point,” explained Young-Hoon.

Staff and the federal government are tracking any Adverse Events Following Immunization, unwanted side effects that may or may not be caused by the vaccine, known as AEFI’s, that have been reported locally and in Canada, respectively.

Out of the 601,901 estimated doses administered across Canada, there have been 90 total reports. 63 of them were considered non-serious, and 27 were considered serious.

Locally, Young-Hoon says staff have been notified of ‘a number of situations’, but they’ve all been minor and standard for immunization programs.

“Generally, they are things that you would expect. Pain and tenderness around the site of the vaccine. Symptoms such as feeling a little unwell. But based on the information we have so far, it’s generally mild symptoms that get resolved relatively quickly.”

She says if you do develop unexpected symptoms or side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, you’re asked to contact your local healthcare provider, who will in-turn report the AEFI to the province and federal governments, which is standard for all vaccines. 

In their catchment area, the Northwestern Health Unit says there are 15 active cases in the area, including 5 in the Dryden / Red Lake region, 5 in the Kenora area, 1 in the District of Rainy River and 4 in the Sioux Lookout region.

Overall, the NWHU has reported a total of 268 cases of COVID-19, which includes 6 probable cases, and 1 death since March, 2020. Young-Hoon notes there are no longer any hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in the health unit’s region.

Throughout their catchment area, Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority is reporting 9 active on-reserve cases of COVID-19, and 3 active cases off-reserve. There’s currently 12 active cases, and there’s been 39 total cases and 1 death since March, 2020.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is asked to get tested and self-isolate immediately, and to stay in isolation until your test results are known. Only those 18 or above are able to receive a vaccine at this time.

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