Public health: ‘The moment the vaccine arrives, we are ready’

Officials say COVID-19 immunizations can begin within 24 hours of vaccine arrival

WELLINGTON COUNTY – The region’s top doctor says public health can start vaccinating residents within 24 hours of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine from the province.

“We have been preparing since July to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health with Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH).

“This vaccination program will be one of the largest projects ever carried out by [WDGPH] – and we are ready.”

Officials explained that developing a plan of this size involved many areas of the agency, including facility upgrades, equipment acquisition, logistical and additional staff training.

WDGPH now has vaccine refrigerators and ultra-low freezers for vaccine storage with enough capacity to store 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and nearly one million refrigerated vaccines, officials say.

Public health nurses have been trained to deliver the vaccine and WDGPH is assuring residents that every person in the region who wants a COVID-19 vaccine will receive one.

“Our region remains at high risk for COVID-19,” said Mercer.

“Our entire agency and our partners stand ready to help provide the vaccine, protect the most vulnerable members of our community, ensure the safety of our healthcare colleagues and move to the end of this pandemic.

“The moment the vaccine arrives, we are ready.”

Spokesperson Danny Williamson told the Advertiser public health does not yet know when vaccines will arrive in the region, as it has not received word from the province.

He confirmed that generally, “vulnerable populations and healthcare workers will be first in the queue” to receive the vaccine.

Until immunizations begin, Williamson said the most important thing local residents can do, particularly over the holidays, is avoid gathering with people outside their household.

WDGPH officials say its ultra-low freezers have the capacity to store 100,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. WDGPH photo