Lambton Public Health launches COVID-19 immunizations

Valerie Verberg becomes the first Lambton County recipient of a COVID-19 vaccine. 26 January 2021. (Photo by Lambton Public Health)

Lambton Public Health has started immunizing against COVID-19 after a limited supply of 500 Moderna vaccine doses arrived Monday.

Valerie Verberg, an 88-year-old Trillium Villa resident, was the first person in Lambton county to receive a shot on Tuesday.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade told a media briefing Tuesday morning that they were slightly delayed because they first had to confirm the temperature of the vaccine was stable during transport.

“We are working towards immunizing the first priority population right now which is long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes, and Indigenous Elder Care Home residents.”

Dr. Ranade said the first facilities to get the vaccine are those that are expected to have a harder time controlling an outbreak, with older homes tending to have more residents in one room.

“And those are the ones that we already sort of knew about, they’re designated as a “C” class, and I think it has to do with their age and structure,” he said. “So those are the ones that we’re going to first and then we’re going to move on to all the other ones, but it’s going to be very short order I think, almost every day there’ll be a new home we’re doing.”

It’s hoped another batch of vaccine will arrive next week.

Dr. Ranade said the people who are immunized with the vaccine will have a much lower chance of getting severe disease and heavy symptoms if they get COVID-19.

He said it remains to be seen if they can say the vaccine can definitively stop transmission, so safety protocols like mask wearing and social distancing must still be followed.

Dr. Ranade explained all three levels of government play a role in the rollout with Ottawa regulating, approving and procuring vaccine, and the province determining who is eligible at any given time for the doses that are available. The job locally is to distribute the vaccine in a safe, effective, equitable manner based on the province’s eligibility criteria.

A taskforce has been created at the local level, to help with the vaccine distribution program.

-With files from Colin Gowdy