When COVID-19 vaccination clinics in and around Brockville first opened, volunteers called their neighbors to urge them to get a jab with the leftover dose at the end of the day, so no one went to waste. At one place, a dog was called to walk in from nearby.
Nurses in the clinics would fill syringes with vaccines, hand them to paramedics, who were then dispersed to help home, and the clinics were set up in social housing complexes. Over the summer, the unit followed the crowd and held a clinic at Brockville Ontario Speedway during a racing event.
A local Giant Tiger opened its warehouse so staff and community members could be vaccinated, and pharmacies in small towns with populations of 3,000 or more vaccinated many rural residents. Hockey rinks served as clinics before the teams returned to the ice this season.
A community surpassed its own 90 percent target on September 27 to take this Eastern Ontario public health unit to the top of the double-dose vaccination chart — just weeks after school began.
Today, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit remains the leader in Ontario, with 92 percent of eligible residents fully vaccinated, and 97 percent receiving a single dose. payoff? According to the unit’s latest figures, there are only 23 active cases in a population of 170,000 people.
The achievement has earned kudos from Health Minister Christine Elliott as well as Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore. Moore has repeatedly said that the entire province needs to achieve 90 percent to keep COVID-19 under control.
But the next closest unit is in Thunder Bay, where 86 percent of residents double-dose. Toronto sits at about 81 percent. The lowest rate, 78 percent, is found in a handful of areas, including Chatham-Kent and Hamilton.
“We’ve always worked well in partnership with our community, and I think it was a case for us to come together as soon as possible, and see how we’re going to provide vaccines to our community so they can take their protect and protect others, said Dr. Paula Stewart, medical officer for health for Leeds, Grenville and Lanark.
The unit covers a large geographical area – approximately 6,329 square kilometers – and initially had fixed sites in Brockville, Smiths Falls, Almonte and Kemptville. Three were run by hospitals, and all with the help of doctors and community teams, which sometimes saw 600 to 900 people a day.
But Stewart said public health realized it had to do more and began offering mobile clinics, with 11 municipalities hosting four or five on board, before administering the shots by public health volunteers. Screened patients.
“It was just an incredible effort,” Stewart said. “We had 40 pharmacies spread out around Leeds, Grenville and Lanark, so small communities with 3,000 to 5,000 people had a pharmacy in their community where they could go. Our media was phenomenal about supporting us… There was talk about it.”
If “someone said we thought this was a good place to go”, he said, “as long as it was going to be safe for our employees, we would.”
As with many rural areas — Brockville, with a population of about 21,000, is the largest municipality in the area — “vaccine clinics in small towns were fantastic,” Stewart said.
“Finally, people will call their neighbors and say, ‘We’ve got an extra vaccine. You have to come and get the vaccine.’ … the community has fully accepted it as ‘this is an important work’.”
The collective spirit, she said, “was the right thing to do — personally, for my friends and family, and for others — to be part of something important, and the community is embracing it.”
As of October 4, the unit recorded 96.6 percent of residents with one dose, and 91.3 percent with two, and that number continues to grow. Result? Fewer COVID case counts, and few outbreaks outside family members and close contacts.
“Touch wood,” said the steward, “but it is making a difference.”
Now the challenge is to appeal to people aged 18 to 29, with mobile teams continuing to work with municipalities and businesses.
“We have adjusted (strategies) based on what we are hearing from the community,” he said. “In September, we adjusted to go out where the people are.”
Some units across the province continue to struggle with vaccine hesitation, something Stewart said Leeds, Grenville and Lanark have also seen.
“There are certainly some people who are concerned – we hear about it through Facebook and we hear about it” via email, but public health answers all questions. Clinic nurses will also address concerns if people want to come with questions.
Stewart said the unit is now seeing a lot of reluctance, especially among pregnant women, so it has spoken publicly about how important it is to protect them, and has reached out to obstetricians and family doctors to help them. “Give them important points that they can use. … We’re basically trying to meet people where they are, give them information and support them.”
Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clarke, who represents Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, said he was proud of the success of the local health unit.
It “continues to have the highest first and second dose vaccination rates in Ontario. Through a strong partnership between the province and our public health officials, the willingness of the people of Leeds, Grenville and Lanark to vaccinate and our health care system to deliver those vaccines efficiently We are moving forward demonstrating the ability to administer,” he said in a statement to Star.
“Ontario’s last mile strategy is working.”
Large urban areas currently have about 80 percent complete vaccination, with the Durham area 84 percent, the York area 82 percent, Peel 81 percent and Toronto 81.6 percent.
Halton, which has fully vaccinated 86 percent of its eligible population ages 12 and older, said in a statement that it “approached our local hospitals to ensure a successful multi-site vaccination rollout last spring.” We worked hard to implement changes with new direction coming from the province and changes in vaccine supply in the first half of the year.
It credited the smooth, quick rollout of the online booking system as “one of our key successes … this booking system was in place for all of our community clinics, including two hospital clinics. Residents found it accessible and user-friendly”. And the unit also ensured that senior citizens were able to reach clinics, including offering free transport.
Lambton’s health unit, with one of the lowest vaccination rates, said it also faces vaccine hesitation, but “our hospitalization rates continue to fall at or below the provincial rate and they The numbers are what we’re most concerned about in the fourth wave. Overall, these are pretty good numbers from a population perspective, but we can do better, and we plan to improve our coverage.
It said it had a “larger rural population, and rural Canadians more likely to report vaccine hesitancy. To investigate further, Lambton Public Health partnered with Ipsos to conduct a local survey Which would provide some insight into the vaccine-hesitant population. “
In response to questions about its vaccine rates, Toronto Public Health said it has a “unique reference to … (it) is the largest local public health entity in Canada, with more than three million people in 140 neighborhoods. Given the higher population than in the rest of the province and other local jurisdictions, the number of people needing vaccination is high, which can further exacerbate challenges such as misinformation, vaccine hesitancy and barriers to vaccination.
Public health is “hearing from community partners who are connecting with residents about why people are hesitant or unable to vaccinate. For example, we have heard that access to vaccination has been a barrier. Difficulty finding time in the day,” it said.
“…Others, such as seniors, may have trouble getting to the places where vaccinations are taking place or may face technical hurdles to book an appointment. Some people use the language to navigate the vaccination process. express concern about the constraints of
It said that around 45 lakh doses have been given in the city.