Health Unit Closes Offices

Mass immunization clinics remain open — those born in ’61 or earlier now eligible

Above image: Facebook

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is closing its three offices to the public after the provincial government today announced it was declaring a State of Emergency in Ontario. 

The provincial emergency and Stay-at-Home order goes into effect at 12:01 am Thursday, April 8 and is to last four weeks. 

During that time, staff from the HKPR District Health will continue to provide services to members of the public, including the operation of mass immunization vaccination clinics in Northumberland County, the City of Kawartha Lakes, and Haliburton County, COVID case investigation and follow-up, and outbreak management. As well, Health Unit staff continue to support harm reduction programs, some environmental health programs, and some programs in place to support families and children. 

“Although our physical locations may close, our staff will continue their work to support and help our residents,” says Dr. Natalie Bocking, Medical Officer of Health for the HKPR District Health Unit. 

While the HKPR region is not seeing the same volume of cases as some parts of the province, Dr. Bocking says there has been a troubling increase in the number of local cases. 

“We may not be considered a hot spot for cases, but I am concerned by the increase in the number of cases we have been seeing locally,” she says. “We are hearing stories of people gathering, not quarantining if they have been identified as a high-risk contact, and travelling for non-essential reasons. Unfortunately, these actions, coupled with the variants of concern that are now circulating, are leading to increased cases in our area.” 

The province announced yesterday that individuals born in 1961 or earlier are now eligible to book vaccination appointments through the provincial booking system (www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine or 1-888-999-6488). Last week, the province also announced the expansion of the pharmacy vaccination program to include local pharmacies. The Health Unit, together with its many health partners, is vaccinating residents and is offering vaccination clinics in Haliburton County, City of Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland County. 

“There are a number of options now available to residents who are eligible to be vaccinated under the provincial plan,” Dr. Bocking says. “I would urge eligible individuals to visit the provincial booking system to continue to look for appointments. Some of our larger clinics may fill up quickly, but I know we have a number of appointments available in the north throughout the month of April.” 

It is Dr. Bocking’s hope that vaccinations, coupled with the newly imposed Stay-at-Home order will help turn the tide against this virus. 

“I know we are all tired and experiencing pandemic fatigue,” she says, “but we need to work together just a little while longer in the hope that we can get this virus under control and start to see some normalcy in our lives.” 

Regards the uptick in cases of COVID locally the health unit is saying, “Of the 94 new cases seen in the past seven days, more than 26% of the new cases were among youth aged 14 to 18 years of age.” As of result of the influx of the COVID variant, residents are urged to remain vigilant, follow all the protocols for safety and follow the provincial Stay-at-Home Order. 

submitted content

More Doses Coming Our Way 

Article by Valerie MacDonald

The local health unit is gearing up to funnel more vaccine at mass clinics in April, according to a Provincial government technical briefing to media on March 31.

And though approved by Health Canada, there is no allocation of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit yet. It is anticipated in the second quarter of this year, according to the briefing. However, on April 1, news reports carried stories that issues were being reported with the way ingredients were being mixed for the J&J vaccine, impacting delivery expectations.

The technical briefing provided a rundown of the local vaccination arenas in place, and doses administered.

As of mid-March four mass clinics, 4 hospital hubs and 2 mobile units had administered over 28,000 doses. Over 1,400 Long Term Care (LTC) residents received one vaccine and 1,200 received two. Staff working in long term care, about 600, in Northumberland have received at least one dose and half of them that are “fully vaccinated,” the report stated.

During Phase 2, anticipated to run until July (based on quantities of vaccines) adults between 60 and 75 (in five-year increments), together with those in high-risk congregate settings, those with high-risk chronic conditions plus their caregivers, people who can not work from home, and at-risk populations will be eligible to receive the vaccine.

The final phase (3) is for adults 59 years and younger.

In addition to this outline, the pharmacy booking system will be expanded allowing people to come from any area for a vaccine. Their qualification for immunization will not be based on where they live. 

In an interview following the briefing, Northumberland/Peterborough MPP David Piccini said the first AstraZeneca “pilot project” was launched in regions determined by need, infections rates and risk profile. He agreed the differing directions about who should and should not receive it, with the recent pause involving those under 55, was confusing to the public.

He said it was good news that initial test results show Pfizer could benefit children as young as 12 but the battle at present is getting vaccinations into the arms of the older population as the number of variant cases of COVID-19 is appearing to steadily rise.

He said Moderna deliveries are delayed until April 7.

The overall objectives of the vaccine rollout is three-fold: preventing death; preventing illness, hospitalization and Intensive Care Unit admissions; and reducing transmission.

People who are eligible can book a vaccination appointment through the provincial booking system. To make an appointment, visit: www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine or call 1-888-999-6488. The local health unit is not handling bookings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *