Vaccination booking system now open for those 75 years or older

By Natali Trivuncic
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Starting today, those 75 years and older can book using the ministry booking system.

Dr. Kit Young Hoon, medical officer of health at the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) said she encourages anyone who is eligible to book an appointment for the vaccine.

Those who are currently eligible are anyone born 1941 or earlier, First Nations and Métis adults, healthcare providers and adult recipients from homecare.

Populations who are currently eligible to receive the vaccine but are not aged 80 years or over must complete the NWHU survey found on the NWHU’s COVID-19 vaccine booking webpage.

The information of eligible individuals who have completed the survey is then sent to the ministry and the ministry then emails a code to the individuals. It may take a few days to receive the code. Young Hoon said if you have not received a code to also check your spam or junk mail.

First Nations and Métis people may also book a vaccine appointment through their local Indigenous health care provider or Health Access Centre.

Young Hoon said at this time she does not know of any pharmacies that are going to be rolling out the vaccine but that it would make sense to do so as they have done that in the past for flu vaccinations.

“I think if a local pharmacy has the appropriate space, it will only be beneficial to the catchment area,” Young Hoon said.

There are vaccination clinics in 13 communities across the catchment area, Young Hoon said, adding that they are following a pattern similar to how they have done flu vaccination clinics in the past.

“We are putting it in communities across the region where there’s enough of a population base to come and get vaccinated,” Young Hoon said. “We have eight health hubs in our catchment area but it would be more than one per health hub, some health hubs would have a few clinics.”

Fourteen new COVID-19 cases were reported in the region on Friday, 10 in the Kenora health hub, and four in the Sioux Lookout health hub.

There are currently 91 active cases in the region, three in the Dryden health hub, 46 in the Kenora health hub and 42 in the Sioux Lookout health hub.

Young Hoon said they have been monitoring statistics closely to see whether the region needs to go in lockdown.

“At this time, the red level makes sense for our catchment area but that will have to be reassessed every week based on COVID cases,” Young Hoon said.

As of Friday morning, from the allotments of vaccine the NWHU has received, 5,753 shots have been given.

Young Hoon said the vaccination clinics are a huge undertaking, much more than flu vaccination clinics because there is a certain amount of urgency to push the vaccines out. She adds that the NWHU has focused in on COVID-19 whether that be in case and contact management or vaccinations.

“It is very much a big undertaking, however, we are ready and we are confident that this will go well,” Young Hoon said. “If you’re eligible to get booked. Don’t wait.”

Young Hoon said the NWHU is aiming to administer 3,500 to 4,000 doses of the vaccine per week, adding that those numbers also depend on how many doses they are allocated. Young Hoon adds that they do not know what their allocation number is after the second week of April.

Young Hoon said they do not waste any doses of the vaccine and have a plan in place which involves calling people at the next clinic or on the waiting list to come and get vaccinated.