WCFHT vaccinations a smooth operator

By Jake Davies - West Carleton Online

CARP – What a beautiful weekend in West Carleton to go get a COVID-19 vaccination inoculation.

And roughly 300 did as the West Carleton Family Health Team (WCFHT) hosted a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinic Saturday and Sunday (April 17, 18) over the weekend. And even better news, the WCFHT will be doing it again next Saturday too (April 24).

“We will be able to do more patients per hour too, now that we have our system,” WCFHT executive director Chris LeBouthillier told West Carleton Online from the Carp clinic’s parking lot last Saturday (April 17) afternoon. “We have been eager for the primary care vaccination rollout to come to Ottawa and are thankful we are able to offer this important service to our community. We anticipate we will be able to continue vaccinating our patient population as long as there is patient demand, available staffing resources, and that there is vaccine supply.”

The weather was perfect for running the vaccination clinic – warm weather and sunny skies all weekend long. The WCFHT decided to make the clinic invitation only. That gave them greater control as the clinic hosted its first COVID-19 clinic. Last July, the WCFHT experimented with parking lot injections.

A photo of Constance Bay's Debra O'Driscoll.
Constance Bay’s Debra O’Driscoll didn’t care which vaccination she received, she was just happy to have it done in West Carleton. Photo by Jake Davies

But that was still different than this, and the WCFHT wants to make sure such an important job is done properly.

“The vaccinations will be administered using the drive-thru vaccine model we developed for our highly successful influenza vaccine clinic last fall,” LeBouthillier said.

The WCFHT was provided with 1,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccination and LeBouthillier says “we’re hoping to get more doses.”

“We’re doing our best to find a way,” he said. “We have a really good relationship with the Queensway Carleton Hospital. We’re exploring different ideas, like holding clinics during the week, though there might be parking issues with the clinic also being open. After next weekend we will re-assess.”

For now, and including next Saturday, the WCFHT will continue using the invitation-only system.

“We are asking our patients not to call in to try to book a vaccine appointment unless we specifically invite them to book by phone or using our online patient health portal,” LeBouthillier said. “We will be following provincial booking requirements and availability is dependent on inventory and vaccine type. We will not be keeping a waiting list.”

For this clinic, the WCFHT system worked smoothly. People want their vaccines, and many are booking multiple appointments in an effort to get vaccinated as soon as possible. LeBouthillier said about 10 to 20 per cent of their invited clients had booked elsewhere, but WCFHT staff made sure to fill those vacated appointments.

Those who did attend, never had to leave their cars. The first step involved a staffer screening the vehicle’s occupants for COVID-19 symptoms. Then staff checked to make sure the attendee had an appointment booked and had filled out the proper documentation and had a valid health card. Following that, the attendee received their inoculation under the supervision of a doctor. Then the vehicle parked, and the passengers waited for 15 to 20 minutes under the observation of WCFHT staff to ensure there were no negative reactions to the vaccination.

LeBouthillier says about 25 per cent of the WCFHT’s roughly 15,000 patients have reported receiving a vaccination (not necessarily through the WCFHT) for COVID-19. That works out to roughly 1,300 or 1,400 patients and LeBouthillier is quick to add the number is probably much higher, as their numbers are based on which patients have reported.

LeBouthillier hopes all WCFHT patients who get vaccinated will let the clinic know by using their self-reporting tool on the WCFHT patient portal.

Constance Bay’s Debra O’Driscoll was one of the 300 to get her AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination at the WCFHT clinic. She says it has alleviated a fair amount of stress off her shoulders.

“Relieved,” O’Driscoll told West Carleton Online from her vehicle following her vaccination, Saturday. “I have grandchildren and family I want to see.”

She said she was happy she was able to get her vaccination in West Carleton.

“It’s local,” O’Driscoll said. “It was efficient. Everything went well. It was very well organized. As you can see it’s moving along, and I actually feel better waiting in my car. When it’s easy, people show up.”

While reports are surfacing some people are rejecting the option to take the AstraZeneca vaccination, preferring one of the other current options, O’Driscoll had no problem with the one offered by the WCFHT.

“No, not really,” she said when asked if she had an issue with taking the AstraZeneca shot. “I did my research, and I was happy to take any of them.”

While no dates have been confirmed yet past next Saturday (April 24), LeBouthillier hopes the WCFHT will continue to offer COVID-19 vaccinations and be a big part of the fight against COVID-19 in West Carleton.

“We appreciate the ongoing support and efforts of our partners, including Ottawa Public Health and the Queensway Carleton Hospital, in working to vaccinate our community,” he said.

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