Colby: COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Chatham running smoothly

Rick Walker a Maintenance Supervisor at Riverview Gardens Long-Term Care Home in Chatham was the first health care worker in Chatham-Kent to get vaccinated at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the John Bradley Convention Centre. February 23, 2021. (Photo submitted by CKHA)

The medical officer of health for Chatham-Kent says the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the John Bradley Convention Centre in Chatham is off to a good start.

The clinic opened on Tuesday and Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said it continues running at “full tilt”, adding hundreds were vaccinated. The goal was to have about 700 people vaccinated after the first two days of vaccinations, but Dr. Colby didn’t have a final number on Thursday.

“It’s such an important step for Chatham-Kent,” he said. “The Bradley Centre clinic is really doing very, very well and they hit the ground running.

Colby said all indications point to the vaccine supply being stable or increasing in the future. He said the second doses at local local long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes, and the Indigenous elder care home at Moraviantown are underway and should be complete by Friday. Dr. Colby added most of the vaccine’s immunity and protection powers kick-in after the first dose and the second shot does have an effect, albeit a smaller one. He estimates the public will eventually have a choice of which vaccine they can have but only when they are plentiful. Colby is excited about having the Johnson and Johnson vaccine when it’s approved by Health Canada.

“The Johnson and Johnson vaccine appears to have a bit of a  slow start to its immune response but it continues to build for a substantial amount of time and the longer you follow the vaccinated population, the better the numbers look and that’s great,” Colby said. “I’m glad the immune response continues to build and I’m really hoping Health Canada approves it soon because a single dose product that only needs refrigeration….wow. We can really work with that and get it  distributed in a widespread way.”

Colby said frozen vaccines are effective but they are cumbersome to work with.

Meanwhile, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance CEO Lori Marshall is warning the public about recent robocalls that claim to be for booking vaccinations, but are really aimed at collecting people’s personal information. She said these calls are not official and should be ignored. She added that all vaccination booking calls will be made by a live person.

“People will be contacted by a live person and no one should be giving out their personal information like social insurance numbers and those kinds of things on the phone,” said Marshall.

CK Public Health said Chatham-Kent police are aware of the issue and there is no need to report these calls to them at this time. Public health officials said they don’t use automated messaging in their work and are not currently booking appointments for the general public.

Dr. Colby said people who can’t travel to Chatham will have an opportunity to get vaccinated at pop-up clinics across the municipality when they are set up and paramedics will be vaccinating individuals who are housebound when they’re identified through their doctors. He added media and social media notifications will hopefully catch all others who fall through the cracks. The homeless population falls under Phase 2 and Colby said there are mechanisms in place to get to those who are missed.