The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s (HKPR) Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ian Gemmill says to expect the COVID-19 locally next month.

Gemmill says HKPR already has a plan in place so they will be ready when the vaccine lands in its medical region. He says they will first focus on residents, staff and essential caregivers at long-term care homes.

“For this pandemic, it is a bright light,” he said during the Health Unit’s weekly briefing. He said the vaccine is virtual to “getting back to normal” in Ontario and around the world.

“We have in the past have had a mass immunization plan,” he explained. “What we’ve done in the past few weeks is review it and make it more specific to the coronavirus.” He says it was written using HKPR’s experiences with mass immunization and what’s been done in larger areas like Toronto and Ottawa. Gemmill says the plan will be submitted to the Ministry of Health this week for approval. 

He said that things could change and the vaccine may come to HKPR later than expected, but February has been the landing date that’s been continuously indicated to him.

With no shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine coming to Canada next week, Gemmill expects HKPR will be getting the Moderna vaccine. 

Once the first phase is complete, Gemmill says next in line to get the vaccine will be other essential workers. “People who have to work to keep our society going during this pandemic,” he explained. After that, older adults who are at risk will get the shot, then the rest of them and finally the general population. 

Gemmill said it’s HKPR’s goal to make sure the vaccine is administered quickly and efficiently to everyone who consents to getting it. As soon as they get the first shipment, he said he wants to get it into people’s arms while making sure the people that want it don’t need to travel multiple hours to have it administered.