CK ready for COVID-19 vaccines

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo Inc. / vetdoctor)

Chatham-Kent will be ready to store the COVID-19 vaccines when they arrive.

The president and CEO of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA), Lori Marshall, said the CKHA has bought an industrial deep freezer to store the vaccine that should be delivered by the end of December.

Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby added he’s also trying to secure a second heavy-duty freezer to store the vaccines. Colby said Chatham-Kent is “well placed” to handle and store whatever vaccines the area is able to get.

“The hospital has ordered such a freezer with a high capacity for vaccine storage so we will have the capability locally of receiving and storing that vaccine for local distribution,” said Colby.

Marshall said the new ultra-cold freezer will hold more than what Chatham-Kent needs. Marshall said the approved Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -70 C and this freezer can handle the job.

“The one we purchased goes down to -85 C and can store full capacity that we would need in Chatham-Kent. My understanding is that’s it’s probably around 400,000 doses that can be stored. So, definitely, that would be more than we would need in Chatham-Kent,” Marshall said. “We will await direction with respect to the whole logistical coordination and we would also work with our other hospital partners across the west region.”

The Pfizer vaccine cannot be transferred beyond the initial delivery location at this time.

Dr. Colby said it’s unclear how long the vaccine immunity will last but it is being monitored very carefully. He added it’s OK to get the vaccine if you haven’t had COVID-19 in the past few months.

On Friday afternoon, the province has announced Phase One will begin on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 with a pilot project in Toronto and Ottawa which will include the vaccination of over 2,500 health care workers in hospitals and long-term care homes with the Health Canada approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The Ontario government said the two locations were selected for the pilot because it will test the travel logistics in two different regions of the province. Those sites also already have the equipment necessary to safely store the vaccine and the trained staff to handle the vaccine.

An expected 90,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses received from the federal government will be delivered to up to 14 hospital sites in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones in December in Phase One, according to the province. The Ontario government anticipates that by end of January over 20 hospitals across the province will be administering the Pfizer vaccine.

An expected 35,000 to 85,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, once approved, would allow other long-term care homes, retirement homes, public health units, and other congregate care settings for seniors to get vaccines.

Phase Two will begin when an increased stockpile of vaccines becomes available to Ontario. Phase Two is expected to begin later in the winter of 2021 with vaccinations given to health care workers, residents in long-term care homes and retirement homes, home care patients with chronic conditions and First Nation communities. Ontario will enter Phase Three when vaccines are available for every Ontarian who wishes to be immunized. The province said vaccines will not be mandatory during Phase Three but people are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.