LILLEY: Good news on vaccines and LTC in Ontario

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The reason this is good news should be self-evident to everyone, long-term care facilities have been hard hit by COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, 60% of the more than 5,000 deaths the province has recorded have come from long-term care facilities, a population of just 79,000.

It’s true people living in long-term care are elderly, often frail with multiple underlying conditions, but they are our most vulnerable and need protection from this virus. Now they are getting it.

There are other changes that will allow more doses to go to long-term care residents and hopefully, have this entire population vaccinated within the next two to three weeks.

In Ottawa, where unfortunately the main vaccination clinic has run out of doses, they are doing trials in moving the Pfizer vaccine from the extreme deep freeze at their research hospital to long-term care centres. Last week, 93-year-old Arnold Roberts received the first vaccine at The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre as part of this program.

“Very good, very pleased,” Roberts said after getting the shot. “It was painless.”

We need more people like Roberts getting these vaccines as quickly as we can. Once nursing homes are finished, the priority needs to be anyone over the age of 80 living independently.

Those over 80 in Ontario living on their own is a population of a little over 600,000 people.

So far, Ontario is reporting a total of 133,553 doses administered of out of 196,125 doses sent by the federal government. The true number of vaccines is actually higher due to a lag in reporting doses of the Moderna vaccine administered in long-term care homes.