What a start to the week!
After nearly a year of living a COVID-19 reality, Chatham-Kent caught a glimmer of light at the end of a long tunnel, and celebrated the arrival of its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday January 25, 2021. CK Public Health staff, along with Chatham-Kent EMS and CKHA, went straight to work, and started to put our local vaccine distribution plans into action by beginning to vaccinate our most vulnerable populations: residents of long-term care homes. In a short day and a half, after long hours, big smiles, and tear stained faces, our entire first COVID-19 vaccine shipment has safely made its way into the arms of those who need it most, and in doing so, injected a little hope into our community.
The Vaccine Makes Its First Appearance In CK
Our #CKVaccineTeam has been carefully planning for weeks for the arrival of our first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine. As information from the provincial government regarding vaccine supply shifts and changes, our local distribution planning remained agile and ready to respond when the vaccine arrived with little notice, and we sprang right into action.
Unlike the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine, the Moderna vaccine that was supplied did not need the extreme freezing practices for storage and transportation, but lots of thawing and prep work to prepare it to be safely, fairly, and quickly distributed to Long-Term Care homes that were ready to receive them.
The First Shot
Bill Breedon, a resident at Riverview Gardens Long Term Care (RVG), rolled up his sleeve and led the way as Chatham-Kent’s first local resident to receive the vaccine for COVID-19. Casually resting in his bed, and expertly and compassionately vaccinated by CK Public Health Nurse Kris Oulds, Bill seemed modest about the weight of the moment. For Chatham-Kent, Mr. Breedon’s bravery is a symbol of the courage we can all call upon to walk through these next few months together, and put the health and safety of our entire community as our #1 priority.
“I’m very grateful to be the first resident at Riverview Gardens to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. I am saying yes to the vaccine for health reasons; I have a history of strokes and want protection from the disease and the severe symptoms that can come along with it,” said Mr. Breedon.
Together We Can Do Wondrous Things
This COVID-19 vaccine roll out is truly a team effort, and that has been felt over the past few days.
“It was an incredible experience to be a part of,” said Dan Drouillard, CK Public Health Nurse, noting in particular “the scale of the operation, the impact on our community, and the fact that we were protecting people from a new disease that has brought humanity to its knees.”
Kris Oulds, the CK Public Health Nurse who had the honour to offer that first vaccination to Bill Breedon, was humbled by staff who “were emotional at the magnitude of what we were doing, which was really cool to see.” She continued with a sentiment that was heard often that day: “Definitely one of the best days of my nursing career…I am proud to work for CK Public Health.”
Whether putting needles in arms, documenting the process, managing with compassion, or keeping track of the process, we were all vaccinators.
This moment has space for all of us.
So, What’s Next?
Stick with us.
Much like the COVID-19 experience thus far, things will change and evolve, sometimes with some notice, and sometimes without. CK Public Health and its partners on the #CKVaccineTeam will continue to work with compassionate care to plan for a continued COVID-19 vaccine rollout for Chatham-Kent.
The Province of Ontario has set a deadline of vaccinating all Long-Term Care Home residents with a first dose as soon as possible with limited amounts of vaccine supply available at this time. Mindful of vaccine supply, and sticking to the provincially developed framework that help us determine who gets the vaccine when – prioritizing our most vulnerable – we will start with Long Term care, and then safely and fairly move from there.
We can do this, Chatham-Kent.
We will continue to work with Chatham-Kent EMS and Chatham-Kent Health Alliance in preparing for the next arrival of vaccine and its distribution.
Public Health is a practice that we all have a role in.
Let’s continue to practice safely and compassionately together.