Health unit marks one year COVID-19 immunization milestone

Valerie Verberg celebrates one year since receiving the first COVID-19 Immunization in Lambton County. (Photo courtesy of Lambton Public Health)

Lambton County has reached a positive milestone as Wednesday marks one year since the first COVID-19 vaccine dose was administered to a local resident.

Valerie Verberg, a resident of Trillium Villa Nursing Home, received her first shot on January 26, 2021. Lambton Public Health started the immunization process after it received a limited supply of 500 Moderna vaccine doses.

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

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

Lambton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade celebrated the exciting milestone with Verberg over Zoom. Special cupcakes with her “famous red hat” were delivered to her.

Now, one year later, 256,646 vaccine doses have been administered to eligible Sarnia-Lambton residents.

About 78 per cent of residents in Lambton County, aged five and older, have received two vaccine doses while 82 per cent of residents have received one dose. As for third doses, 43 per cent of eligible residents have received their booster.

Ranade said many vaccine clinics have been scheduled throughout January so demand will start to slow over the coming months.

“We’ve got double clinics every day, plus pharmacies, plus some health care providers, this is probably going to be a very big month in terms of booster doses,” he said. “February will continue that work but maybe at just a slightly slower pace. It seems like that demand is going to drop a little bit in that month.”

As residents go for their booster shots, many may notice Moderna as ‘what’s being served’ at clinics due to an ongoing delay of Pfizer shipments.

“Moderna is still the one we have more of and we don’t have enough Pfizer necessarily to accommodate everybody’s brand preferences because we need to focus the Pfizer [doses] on the under 30 population,” said Ranade. “Having said that though, we consider those vaccines to be quite interchangeable.”

In an effort to vaccinate as many Ontarians as possible, the provincial government announced in December 2021, that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine would be made available to those 18 and up. The limited supply of the single-dose vaccine would be used for adults who have an allergy to mRNA vaccines or those who are unvaccinated who put in a request to their local health unit.

“There are small amounts of Johnson & Johnson that have been sent to Ontario and we can order from that stockpile in small amounts. I think that we did get a shipment of about 20 or 30 doses and gave it to people who were on a list who were really specifically interested in that vaccine,” Ranade said. “So if you contact the health unit, we can add you to the list.”

Ranade said those added to the list will be notified once another shipment arrives.

As of Tuesday, 30,166,800 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across Ontario.