By Mike Renzella
The Haldimand Press
HALDIMAND—Residents and staff at Grandview Lodge in Dunnville were the first people in Haldimand County to receive a dose of the Pfizer BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’ve been working closely with Public Health in the week leading up to the rollout. We had sent out some communication to families, obtained consent for residents, provided consent forms for staff. Prior to knowing that we were going to be receiving the vaccine we wanted to be pro-active in handing out … educational materials about the different vaccines being offered,” said Jennifer Jacob, Administrator of Grandview Lodge. “Whenever you are doing any type of medical procedure it is mandatory to have informed consent. That means offering risk factors and educating people on the benefits versus the risks.”
Grandview’s pharmacists and physicians checked resident charts to identify any contraindications, which revealed the number of residents and staff who could not receive the vaccine to be “minimal.” Jacobs stated that 109 residents and approximately 35 staff members received their first shot of the new vaccine on January 14, 2021. Residents and staff at Norview Lodge in Simcoe were the first to receive the vaccine in the health district the day before.
Grandview’s two physicians staggered their time at the home so there was “a physician on site at all times” along with Grandview nursing staff to administer the vaccine, assisted by paramedics who “were also here to respond in the off-chance that there would be an emergency.” Members from Public Health attended to maintain “the cold stream of the vaccine,” as it must be kept at a specific temperature to remain viable.
Jacob went on to say that the plan was well executed, and there have not been any adverse effects listed by either residents or staff members as of press time. The plan was to vaccinate more people, but the amount of vaccine allotted was not sufficient to cover every staff member who had consented to it.
Val Ekersley is a resident of Grandview Lodge and president of the resident council; she was the first person to receive a dose at the home: “I am hopeful that enough people will take the vaccine so that residents like me can get back to normal, visiting with our friends and family without worrying about being sick,” said Ekersley.
Beth Brown is a registered nurse at Grandview. She said, “Today was an exciting day for our home, staff, and residents. I feel privileged to have had this opportunity. There is a sense of relief that comes over you just knowing this will help keep our residents, peers, and ourselves safe.”
Chris Forge, a Grandview employee in housekeeping, added, “After speaking to my physician and reading the information provided online, I was super stoked to get it. Emotionally I’m feeling relieved, and I’m feeling good physically after receiving the vaccine. I’m glad I got it.”
First doses of the Pfizer vaccine were also rolled out this past Sunday at Anson Place Care Centre and Retirement Residence in Hagersville.
According to Danielle Kennedy, Executive Director of Anson Place, all residents that provided informed consent, or consent through a Power of Attorney, received the vaccine. Their clinic ran in a similar fashion to Grandview Lodge, with Public Health and EMS on site to assist with the rollout.
“Registered staff in the home will follow protocols for monitoring and documenting any side effects of the vaccine, as per the strict reporting guidelines we must follow,” said Kennedy. “We anticipate a second clinic in about three weeks time and hope the supply chain delay does not adversely affect this.”
Jacob touched on the fear of the unknown that many people feel regarding the health risks the vaccine represents.
“Once we knew the vaccine was headed our way, we started to see more consent come in…. Once we knew that it was happening, people really started taking a proactive approach, educating themselves, and speaking to their doctors,” she said. “I anticipate, like with anything, people need to see someone go first to put their mind at ease. Especially when we’re dealing with something we’ve never seen before…. I anticipate a greater uptake during the second offering.”
Despite the rollout of the vaccine, guidelines remain the same. Even after receiving their second dose, those vaccinated will still need to adhere to distancing rules, proper use of personal protective equipment, and constant hand hygiene. Local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai explained this is because “when someone gets vaccinated, they’re protected from getting sick with COVID-19, but it hasn’t shown to stop them from transmitting it.” Therefore, a vaccinated person could potentially become an unknown carrier of the virus and transmit it to someone who has yet to receive the vaccine.
“It was a good day. It felt really good to vaccinate on site and to get our residents that extra level of protection,” summed up Jacob.
“Immunization is widely recognized as one of the most effective interventions for reducing the impact of infectious diseases, and we are strongly encouraging all residents and staff to receive the vaccination. It is our sincere hope that we can eliminate COVID-19 as a threat to our residents, their families, our staff, and the community,” added Kennedy.
It was announced late last week that up to 50% of the future doses of the Pfizer vaccine coming to Canada would be temporarily delayed due to expansion plans at its European manufacturing facility. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assured Canadians that these delays would only be temporary.
Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit completed
the first round of vaccinations for all long term care facilities on January 18. Vaccinations were started at area retirement homes next and were expected to be completed Wednesday.
“We have waited for this day for a long time,” said West Haldimand General Hospital and Norfolk General Hospital President and CEO Lucy Bonanno. “It truly marks the turning point in our battle against COVID-19. We are starting to get needles into the arms of our most vulnerable members to ensure they are protected.”