Local vaccination site starting with seniors, caregivers, and frontline workers

March 11, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

The first round of COVID-19 vaccinations in Orangeville began at the Alder Street arena on Wednesday (March 3) with public health nurses from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) administering the Pfizer vaccine. 

The vaccine requires a person to receive two doses with the second one given 21 to 42 days after the first, for the vaccine to be fully effective.

This first clinic was intended for people 80 years of age and older, members of the Indigenous community, frontline workers, and caregivers.

After receiving the shot, people were asked to wait in an observation area for 15 minutes.

Local resident Geoff Green received his first vaccination because he is a caregiver.

“They have us sit here in case we have an adverse reaction,” Mr. Green said while in the waiting area. “Before we leave, we have to speak to someone else to clear us to leave. Before they gave me the injection they asked if I was allergic to anything. It was a very fine needle. I didn’t really feel anything at all.”

At 55, Mr. Green is well below the 80-year age limit for this particular clinic, however as a caregiver he was eligible for the vaccination.

“I’m here as an essential caregiver for my 94-year-old mom who’s at Avalon (retirement residence),” he explained. “I’m her power-of-attorney. She’s got early onset dementia so I make all her financial decisions. I was listed as an essential caregiver.”

As a transportation worker, Mr. Green also qualifies as an essential worker.

He praised the staff at Avalon as being very diligent during the COVID crisis and said as a resident in a retirement home, his mom’s biggest problem has been the seclusion, for almost a year now.

“She’s been great,” he said. “My mom’s biggest issue with COVID is she hasn’t been able to get out of there for a year. She can go on the patio, but I can’t go there and visit her. We have done window visits, and last summer we were able to do one-on-one visits but we were separated by a desk. So that’s been hard. There have been no hugs from her kids or her grandkids.”

The clinic managed to vaccinate around 250 people last Wednesday (March 3). The number was fairly small on the first day because organizers wanted to make sure the system of getting people registered and in for their shots was working smoothly. They plan on ramping up those numbers to 1,500 per day once the vaccine supply is available.

“We have a good understanding of our shipment schedule through March and it’s about 3,500 doses a week,” said Danny Williamson, communications specialist with the Health Unit. “We really do want to press ahead so we can be vaccinating as many people as possible. All this is based upon the province’s framework for vaccinations. All of these people are able to pre-register, and what that does is get them into our system with their preferred contact information so each of these groups are notified.”

Everyone who receives the vaccination will be notified as to when they can return for the second dose.

As of press time roughly 22,000 first or second doses of the vaccine have been administered in the WDGPH region, which accounts for roughly 6,500 people being fully vaccinated.

Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum of WDGPH says while the overall case numbers aren’t yet seeing an impact from the local vaccine rollout, it’s already helping to lower hospitalizations and deaths in long term care and retirement homes.

Adults 70 years of age or older who reside in the WDG region are now eligible to pre-register for their COVID-19 vaccination by visiting: Those who need assistance with registering online can call 1-844-780-0202.

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