Between 900 and 1150 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be transported to the region next week, EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said at a media conference on Friday afternoon. The doses would be distributed to long term care residents, employees and essential visitors.
The vaccine needed to be stored in freezers at minus 70 degrees to remain viable. Dr. Roumeliotis said doses could be transported to vaccination sites while refrigerated at between two and eight degrees as long as they were administered within five days. EOHU staff and EMS teams from Prescott and Russell would distribute the vaccine to local long term care facilities.
“If we get it on Tuesday, we’re going to start [vaccinating on Wednesday],” Dr. Roumeliotis said. “We’re going to go through weekends working to make sure we get as many people vaccinated as possible. I’m very much looking forward to that.”
Dr. Roumeliotis said the region had secured consistent doses of the vaccine through to the end of the month. He said reports that Ontario would run out of doses by the end of next week would not affect the shipments to the EOHU, as those vaccines had already been allocated and accounted for under the province’s rollout.
The vaccines, when delivered, would be the first for the EOHU region, which this week surpassed 500 active cases. As of Friday, 565 cases had been reported in the area, including 229 in Prescott-Russell. Dr. Roumeliotis said the doses would be distributed to essential staff who worked at facilities inside the region, even if they lived elsewhere.
Fifteen institutional outbreaks were ongoing in the EOHU area on Friday. In Prescott-Russell, cases at long term care and retirement homes had been limited to staff, with no residents testing positive at the current outbreaks in Villa St-Albert, Foyer St-Viateur Nursing Home in Limoges, Residence Prescott-Russell in Hawkesbury, and Russell Meadows Retirement Home.
Meanwhile, elementary school students will not return to in-person learning next week as planned at the start of Ontario’s lockdown. Instead, they will return at the same time as secondary students on January 25, after the provincial government announced the change on Thursday.
The Ontario government had yet to announce a curfew similar to the one due to come into force in Quebec on the weekend. Dr. Roumeliotis said he would not be willing to create an EOHU-exclusive curfew to match the bordering province, and would instead prefer for the decision to be made by the province.
The 229 active cases in Prescott-Russell on Friday included:
- 85 in Clarence-Rockland;
- 41 in Russell;
- 35 in Alfred-Plantagenet;
- 18 in Champlain;
- 17 in The Nation;
- 16 in Casselman, and;
- 0 in East Hawkesbury.
More details about the vaccine rollout were expected at another EOHU media conference on Monday afternoon