Local health unit preparing to bring vaccines to those who are homebound as it plans to move through vaccination phases

County of Simcoe Paramedics to assist in administering vaccines to those who can't leave home

The region’s top medical official has highlighted some of the next steps in getting Simcoe-Muskoka residents their COVID-19 vaccine. The timeline depends on a continued vaccine supply.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Charles Gardner, said the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) will soon be taking vaccine doses to individuals who are homebound. “This has been a challenge before in that we didn’t have authorization to use vaccines in a way that would allow us to move in this way,” Gardner said Tuesday. “We now have authorization to provide Moderna vaccine for home visits.”

Gardner said the SMDHU is working with the County of Simcoe Paramedics in providing this service, along with community care services and family health teams.

“As we look to the future, we’re really commencing the phase two requirements for individuals receiving immunizations, so we’re getting ready to move in five-year increments and to younger age groups,” Gardner added, pointing out that as of Tuesday afternoon, the minimum age to register for a shot remains 70 and above in Simcoe-Muskoka.

“We are getting ready to work with our hospitals and family health providers, primary care providers, with regards to immunizing individuals with highest risk and high-risk health conditions,” he continued, adding the health unit will soon move on to providing vaccines to congregate care settings like shelters for those experiencing homelessness, correctional facilities, and group homes. “Following that we would be working to provide immunizations to a very large group of people who are at risk with health conditions, and those who are deemed to be essential workers who cannot work from home.”

Gardner added, while the federal government has recently announced it is suspending the use of AstraZeneca vaccines in anyone under age 55, Simcoe-Muskoka will continue to receive shipments. As one of six regions in Ontario participating in an AstraZeneca pilot program for those 60 and older, Gardner says Simcoe-Muskoka has seen 4,400 people vaccinated with this version of the shot. Those 60 and above will continue to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine following informed consent.