High priority COVID-19 vaccination begins in Simcoe County

·2 min read

“These are difficult days but there are better days ahead.”

With the promise of new COVID-19 vaccinations available in both Barrie and Alliston, Kathy Dermott, spokesperson for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit signed off with a word of hope at Monday morning’s Zoom meeting.

Midway through the inception of the province’s Phase 1 roll-out of vaccinations, Simcoe County was thrown back into the restrictive Grey Zone due to COVID-19 variants that have swept across Barrie during the last month.

While businesses are balking at the imposed shutdowns and stringent customer visitation limits, seniors are rolling up their sleeves to take advantage of a chance to escape the deadly virus altogether.

“Today we have four clinic locations that are open,” said Mary Ann Holmes, vice-president of the health unit’s immunization program.

As of March 1, Holmes said vaccination clinics were open in Holly Community Centre, Alliston Memorial Clinic, in Huntsville, as well as a drive-thru clinic in Collingwood.

“I’m happy to report that by the end of the week that all regions will have a clinic open and be able to offer vaccines,” she said. “The vaccine we’ve received to date has been Pfizer and we don’t have a line on when other products will be available. But we really would just be encouraging people to take advantage of the COVID vaccine that’s available to them whenever they’re eligible.”

Simcoe County’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Charles Gardner, confirmed the current Pfizer doses will be interspersed with Moderna and AstraZeneca brands once their supplies become available.

“The fridge-stable vaccines are more mobile and potentially can be used for vaccination at home or in family practice settings or pharmacies,” Gardner said.

Phase 1 priority groups include adults aged 80 years and older, Indigenous adults aged 55 and older, adult recipients of chronic home care, staff and residents in care settings and very high priority frontline health-care workers.

Once the expected roll-out of Phase 2 inoculation arrives in early April, availability and distribution will broaden across the province.

Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance