OTTAWA – Ottawa’s chief medical officer and general manager of Emergency and Protective Services gave council an update on the local COVID-19 vaccine rollout today.
“In advance of the upcoming holidays and in light of the first delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, we wish to provide an update on the work of the City’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force (CVDT), the Ottawa Hospital (TOH) and other community partners,” Dr. Vera Etches and Anthony Di Monte wrote in a memo to council today (Dec. 18) obtained by West Carleton Online. “This has been a truly historic week for Ottawa, with health care workers who work in some of Ottawa’s long-term care homes becoming the first individuals in the city to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at The Ottawa Hospital.”
There will be a phased and scheduled vaccination campaign to make COVID-19 vaccine available to everyone in Ottawa, however it will take many months before large segments of the population are vaccinated.
“We are confident residents of Ottawa will keep doing their best to protect their friends, family and coworkers while the vaccinations continue,” Etches said.
The CVDT and partners are in the process of developing logistical and inclusive phased-in plans to administer vaccinations when more become available.
“The planning includes vaccination logistics and locations as well as the most effective means to reach and inform all residents.” Di Monte said. “With these initial vaccinations happening now, we will take the best vaccination administration practices and continue to implement them into our larger plan.”
The tests and trials on the Pfizer vaccine have been reviewed and approved by Health Canada. This phase of the rollout is not about testing the safety of the vaccine; it is about determining how to best administer the vaccine.
“We know there are individuals with questions and concerns about this new vaccine, and to ensure residents have the most up to date information, OPH has launched a COVID-19 vaccine website page, which will be updated regularly,” Etches said. “While the various indicators tracking COVID-19 levels in Ottawa remain stable, our numbers are no longer declining. It only takes a small increase in the number of individuals’ close contacts to quickly lead to a significant rise in COVID-19 levels in our community. As we enter the holiday season, we need to continue to make informed decisions to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the COVID-19 virus. Avoiding crowded places and close contact with people outside our households are most important.”
The team believes it is important to continue to follow COVID-19 safe practices despite the arrival of the vaccination.
“We must stay consistent, stay strong, stay focused in the weeks and months ahead,” Etches said. “OPH has updated its website to reflect the holiday guidance announced by the provincial government and provide residents with information on how to celebrate more safely. We continue to ask that celebrations happen only with the people you already live with, virtually or physically distanced with anyone else, and that those who live alone can exclusively join one other household.”
With a new vaccine available and others anticipated in the weeks and months to come, there is a light on the horizon.
“We are adding another layer of protection to our toolkit,” Etches said. “Every single action to prevent COVID-19 transmission counts, and the next few months will require our patience and perseverance. The mask use, physical distancing, hand washing and staying home when ill are practices that will remain important layers of protection against the virus, including for people who are vaccinated. Residents can expect further updates and more detailed information on the COVID vaccine rollout in the coming weeks. Wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy holiday season.”