Elgin and Oxford residents receive first round of vaccines

Marion Gillespie receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. March 15, 2021. (Image supplied by Southwestern Public Health)

Southwestern Public Health has administered its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the mass immunization clinics in St. Thomas and Woodstock.

During what the health unit called an “emotional” morning on Monday, eligible residents with pre-booked appointments flocked to the sites with the hope for a brighter future ahead. Frank Gratton of Rodney, and Marion Gillespie were the first to receive the shots at the clinics set up at Elgin Memorial Arena in St. Thomas and Goff Hall in Woodstock.

“I am most looking forward to getting back to normal,” said Gratton, a member of the local Indigenous community in Elgin County. “I firmly believe vaccines will help us all get there
sooner.” While Gillespie said she just wants to see her grandkids and great-grandkids again.

Jaime Fletcher, the program manager leading the COVID-19 Immunization Task Force at the health unit called the day historic.

“There were certainly tears from our community members who came in to be vaccinated today, and also from our own team. The hope that comes along with these vaccinations is palpable. With
every dose in arms, we are one step closer to ending this pandemic in our communities,” Fletcher said.

The health unit said over 2,000 vaccines will be administered over the course of the week, with another 5,000 planned for next week. An additional batch of appointments will be released on Mondays based on the inventory that arrives at both clinics. More appointments for the week of March 28 are expected to be released next Monday at 8 a.m.

Monday also saw the launch of the provincial appointment booking system in select regions. However, Southwestern Public Health  plans to continue using its existing system for the time being.

Eligible individuals who do not receive information¬†through an employer, a care provider’s home, or a care provider can find details on how to book an appointment, or to double check eligibility by calling¬†226-289-3560 or by clicking here.