For a third year, Hamilton Paramedics will bring back a flu immunization program that supports vulnerable members of the community.
A report that was in front of Hamilton’s Emergency and Community Services Committee at their meeting on Thursday (Sept. 24), outlines plans for the establishment of mobile flu immunization clinics focussed on vulnerable populations including, but not limited to, the nine existing Community Paramedicine Clinic locations across the city.
Hamilton EMS Chief, Michael Sanderson met with the committee to talk about the program.
He said “with the risk of a simultaneous COVD and flu season,” and in anticipation of the increased demand for the flu shot, “the program is targetting at least 40 patients per day.”
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The report says that when all is said and done, at least 2,400 people — many of them seniors — would be immunized through the program.
Sanderson explained that the goal is to provide easy and effective access for people who might have trouble accessing other clinics and help protect a portion of the population that’s especially susceptible to influenza and COVID-19.
Ward 6 councillor, who spearheaded the initial launch of the program several years ago, touted the program’s outreach.
“It’s a wonderful program,” he said. “Applause all around from my end.”
Jackson posed the question, though, whether or not EMS staffing and response times might be affected by the absence of the two paramedics who will be administering the shots on any given day throughout the program.
“We have adequate staffing,” Sanderson said, “and it will not affect daily staffing or response times.”
He added that Hamilton’s EMS has a ‘relatively low’ number of paramedics out of service due to self-isolation requirements.
“Knock on wood,” he said. “All of them came into contact with the virus outside of their jobs.”
The report notes that the program previously has been carried out with the support and guidance of Hamilton Public Health, and funding from the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network (HNHB LHIN) Emergency Services Steering Committee (ESSC).
“Funding from Ontario Health West, which now is responsible for the former HNHB LHIN activities, will be pursued,” the report said.
In the absence of Ontario Health funding, we propose to provide the service as a potential cost overrun to the Hamilton Paramedic Service 2020 operating budget.”
The cost of the program is a little more than $40,000.
Jackson, however, appealed to Paul Johnson, the director of Hamilton’s Emergency Operations Centre, to perhaps use a portion of COVID-19 emergency funds from higher levels of government to fund the program.
The mobile is expected to roll out October 15.