Hamilton Public Health announced the city will be receiving the first shipping of the Health Canada approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine “in the coming weeks.”
“The doses in this shipment will be reserved for people who are at higher risk for COVID-19, as identified by the Government of Ontario,” according to public health.
The effort will be a collaboration between Hamilton Health Sciences, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Primary Care Physicians, and Hamilton Paramedic Services to establish the city’s first COVID-19 vaccination clinic for long-term care employees.
“All of us at HHS are proud to take part in this effort. It perhaps marks the beginning of the end of this difficult period for our hospital and the communities we serve. It’s a ray of light at the end of a very long tunnel,” said Bruce Squires, President, McMaster Children’s Hospital and Co-Chair of HCRT Vaccine Logistics Planning.
The first clinic will not be open to the general public and will be by scheduled appointments only.
“Those identified to receive the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be contacted,” said public health.
More details are expected to be rolled out next week as planning gets underway with the help of the Province.
Public health is expecting that the vaccines will become available for more people in the winter and spring of 2021 and available to everyone, free of cost, by the end of 2021.
“The news that was announced today by the Province that Hamilton would be receiving doses of the COVID-19 vaccine is very uplifting,” said Michelle Baird, Director, Hamilton Public Health Services and Co-Chair of the HCRT Health Promotion and Immunization Working Group and Logistics Planning.
“It has come at a pivotal time in our community when we are seeing a high number of outbreaks in our congregate care settings, an unfortunate number of deaths, and rising daily case counts. We are looking forward to working with our hospital partners on getting this momentous project off the ground with hopes of having a positive impact on the health and wellness of our community.”
Meanwhile, Ontario’s premier called an emergency meeting with health officials to discuss ways to tackle rising hospitalizations from COVID-19 as infections surge in the province.
Doug Ford said the meeting, set for 1 p.m. Friday (Dec. 18), will include the province’s health minister, chief medical officer of health and hospital leaders, and will consider next steps to break the trend.
“Everything is on the table when it comes to protecting the health of Ontarians,” Ford said in a statement.
The meeting follows calls from hospitals, doctors, and nurses for stricter lockdowns in hard-hit regions.
Ontario also provided details on Friday about the 17 hospitals that will be distributing the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks.
The facilities, which include hospitals from Windsor to Thunder Bay, Ont., will join the University Health Network in Toronto and the Ottawa Hospital in giving the vaccine to health-care workers.
The hospitals in Toronto and Ottawa began administering the shots Monday (Dec. 21), and the government said Friday that they have given over 2,300 doses to health-care workers thus far.
The province expects to receive an additional 90,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of the month.
With files from Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press