UPDATE: Good news for Chatham-Kent on sombre anniversary

Chatham Mass Vaccination Clinic at the John D. Bradley Centre on February 22, 2021 (Photo by Allanah Wills)

The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit is tops in Canada when it comes to vaccinating its population against COVID-19, according to the region’s medical officer of health.

Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said about 10 per cent of the local population has been given at least one dose of the vaccine. He said that is the highest rate in the country with the exception of the three territories, which have a different system.  Just over 11,500 Chatham-Kent residents have been given a shot as of Thursday morning. Colby said that’s a great accomplishment given that Chatham-Kent started receiving its vaccine supply about six weeks after many other public health units. The mass vaccination clinic at the John Bradley Convention Centre in Chatham was averaging about 1,200 doses a day last week during the fist week of injections.

“Our little community has once again hit the ball out of the park,” Colby said.

Colby credits a bit of luck and a lot of effort by his team and the community for Chatham-Kent’s success in keeping case counts and deaths low during the pandemic.

Dr. Colby doesn’t have any information about when Chatham-Kent pharmacies will start booking vaccine appointments but hopes they will join the provincial roll out next week. He urges people not to call pharmacies yet and added those announcements will come when they’re ready. Colby added Chatham-Kent has not received any AstraZeneca vaccine doses yet. Currently, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being used at the mass vaccination clinic and long-term care and retirement homes respectively.

Colby is also urging employers to give their workers time off work to get the vaccine when it’s their turn. He also reminds the public to stay vigilant and compliant because the pandemic is not over.

“It’s not over by a long shot,” he said. “Let’s get everybody vaccinated and be done with all of this.”

March 11, 2021 marks the one year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. The weekly COVID-19 teleconference in Chatham-Kent on Thursday started with a moment of silence to honour the thousands that have died over the past year because of the virus. Chatham-Kent had nine deaths linked to COVID-19 this past year, while more than 7,000 people died in Ontario, and just over 22,000 passed away in Canada.

Meantime, the health unit has released new information about when second doses can be administered after some changes by upper levels of government. The vaccines can now wait 16 weeks between doses. In Chatham-Kent, all second dose appointments currently scheduled are cancelled at this time with the following exemptions:
• Residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, Elder Care Lodges, and Assisted Living facilities; and
• Remote and isolated First Nation communities, including those living at Delaware Nation at Moraviantown.

Individuals with cancelled second dose appointments should call the Chatham-Kent Public Health vaccination line at 519-351-1010 to book their second appointment. Other second dose appointments are not currently being booked. The public is being instructed to call 519-351-1010 three months after the date of their first vaccine to book their second appointment. More information and a schedule can be found by clicking here.