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Hub Staff

As Ontario continues to rollout the three-phased COVID-19 vaccination program, the Grey Bruce Health Unit (GBHU) has prepared a similar Vaccination Plan specific to the communities within Grey and Bruce counties. The GBHU has forecasted the third phase of their vaccination plan to reach completion by the end of 2021 with a goal of vaccinating 75 percent of the local population.

On the immunization program overview found on page 8 of the GBHU Vaccination Plan, Phase 1 is scheduled to end in March 2021, Phase 2 from April to August of 2021 and Phase 3 by year end. The GBHU has calculated a total population of 15,543 to be vaccinated in Phase 1. According to the Public Health Grey Bruce website, as of Wednesday, February 24, a total of 3,759 vaccinations had been administered in Grey and Bruce, just under 25 percent required to fulfill this first phase.

Phase 1 targets both staff and residents of Longterm Care (LTC) homes and retirement homes, healthcare workers, on-reserve and off-reserve Indigenous people and chronic home care recipients. Phase 2 extends to all essential workers, adults over 60, staff and residents of additional congregate settings and the at-risk populations under the age of 65. The remaining population falls under phase 3, an estimated 11,021 residents.

The plan outlined three different approaches to implement the vaccination program. The first approach, Practice Clinics, are to be led in partnership with Primary Care, Community Health Centres, Aboriginal Health Access Centres and Pharmacies. Public Health will be responsible for transportation of the vaccine and training of staff at the immunization sites. A Mobile Clinic approach has already been used to vaccinate LTC homes, where facility staff provide assistance to Public Health with screening, post vaccine monitoring, immunizing and traffic flow. Mobile Clinics are the planned approach to vaccinate retirement homes, First Nations and shelters.

The third clinic model is the Mass Immunization or “Hockey Hub” approach. In a media release, Public Health emphasized the contingency on an adequate vaccine supply before this model can be implemented. The document did, however, announce three secured sites in Grey Bruce currently being prepared for use as mass immunization hubs when larger quantities of the vaccine become available to the region.

See: Health Unit creates “Hockey Hub” to administer COVID-19 vaccinations

GBHU has two ULT (Utra-Low Temperature) freezers to safely store the vaccines as they are supplied. A temperature monitoring system equipped with out of range and low-battery alarms is to be employed 24 hours a day, seven day a week to ensure vaccine supply remains at a safe storage temperature. The ULT freezers operate on an emergency power circuit to maintain an uninterrupted supply during power outages. A primary and secondary storage site have been implemented to accommodate any failures in operation.

The 45 reported available nurses from GBHU were deemed sufficient to carry out the Vaccination Program within the provincial timelines, provided the vaccine supply remains steady. GBHU recognized that the local healthcare system will inevitably see a significant impact from the assistance required by nurses, EMS staff and pharmacists. To minimize the stress on healthcare resources, the Grey Bruce Vaccine Task Force will look at enlisting nursing students and retired nurses to fill the required positions. Client transportation will be another issue tackled by the Grey Bruce Vaccine Task Force. Accessible, low cost transportation is a requirement of the Mass Immunization Model.

The GBHU Vaccination Program Plan recognized the need for clear and accessible communication to educate the public on COVID-19 vaccines. Potential vaccine hesitancy as well as limited access to typical communication channels were identified as potential obstacles.

“There is a requirement to use direct communication strategies, using preexisting relationships and communication channels, to ensure the message reaches all corners of Grey and Bruce, and to minimize equitability challenges,” stated the document.

"GBHU has committed to providing a robust and modifiable communication plan to keep the public well informed as the plan develops," the document continued. "By monitoring public feedback and identifying information gaps, the GBHU aims to continue to improve their communication channels. GBHU also strives to enhance their program efficiency and effectiveness using a Real Time Evaluation as the vaccination rollout progresses," the Plan said.

“Planning for the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination program within the Grey Bruce service area and within multiples sectors and settings in the context of incomplete information is a challenging task that is made possible by Public Health’s experience and expertise in mass vaccination programs and strong partnerships with local health and non-health sector partners,” read the Plan.

To see the Grey Bruce Health Unit COVID-19 Vaccination Plan in full, visit