Beginning on March 1, community COVID-19 vaccination clinics will start to open in Simcoe County and Muskoka, with at least one location slated to open in each of the area’s sub-regions, the local top doctor confirmed Tuesday.
Next week, local public health will also move toward inoculating other priority groups, including those who are age 85 and above, Dr. Charles Gardner, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s medical officer of health, told reporters.
“We’re also going to be commencing vaccination for the Indigenous adult population in our communities — those 55 years of age and older,” he said, adding this will be in addition to adult chronic homecare recipients and high priority health-care workers.
“It will take us time to be able to move through all of those people. We wouldn’t be able to book them all at once, and we would be taking a waitlist for people who fall into that category.”
Gardner said the health unit will also screen for those who don’t belong to priority COVID-19 vaccination categories. People will be asked to test that they fall under priority categories and will be expected to provide professional documentation.
“There was an announcement made provincially last week that there would be the provision of vaccination by mid-March to those 80 and above,” Gardner added.
“We wish to commence indeed with those 80 and above, but that’s a very large population, so focusing on those 85 and above to begin with at the beginning of March and then moving on from there.”
The region’s top doctor said there will be three COVID-19 immunization clinics between Barrie and Innisfil, two in Muskoka, two in North Simcoe, three in South Simcoe, one in the Orillia area and two in Southern Georgian Bay — including one in Collingwood and another in Wasaga Beach.
“We do anticipate change over time, too — the potential for pop-up and mobile clinics and the ability for us to continue to go out to other congregate settings,” Gardner said.
This week, the health unit is working to provide COVID-19 vaccinations in the region’s four First Nations communities, according to Gardner. The health unit is also immunizing high priority health-care workers — like paramedics, assessment centre workers and homecare providers — at Barrie’s coronavirus vaccine centre.
According to Gardner, 92 per cent of long-term care residents in Simcoe County and Muskoka have been completely immunized with both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 87 per cent of retirement home residents have received their first jab.
Later this week, the health unit will release information about who is eligible to book themselves for a COVID-19 vaccine and directions on how to do so.
The health unit has administered a total of 35,170 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine since December 2020, mainly to health-care workers in local hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes.