LAMBTON – Lambton County received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine last week.
Lambton received 500 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and expects to receive about another 500 or 600 this week, Lambton County medical officer of health Dr. Sudit Ranade said in a Facebook Live event on Jan. 26.
As per the provincial government’s immunization plan, the top priority is residents of long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes and indigenous elder care homes. The first person in Sarnia-Lambton to receive the vaccine in Lambton was a long-term care home resident in Sarnia.
“We have a very, very small amount of vaccine and obviously lots and lots of people who would like that vaccine. This is the current priority population that we are focused on,” Ranade said.
“It’s very exciting,” the medical officer of health added, explaining that to already have two highly effective vaccines (the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines) approved within about a year of the pandemic “is amazing … It is a huge milestone.”
He said bringing the vaccine to fruition in such a short amount of time has taken a lot of work by many people behind the scenes and he expressed his thanks for their efforts.
“Thank you to all of those people … We’re really grateful for all of your work.”
Ranade took questions from the media and public during his Jan. 26 online discussion. The vaccine rollout is still in the first phase, but once phase two goes into effect, Ranade said immunizing will go by age, starting for those 80 and above, and then go down in five-year increments.
“We know that age is probably the most significant risk factor for severe disease,” he said.
Asked how people can make an appointment to receive their vaccine, Ranade said that will become clearer as Lambton receives more vaccines. He said sites will be set up where people will be able to receive their vaccines. On that note, Ranade said there will not be scenarios in which people are waiting in long lines to receive their vaccine.
“We really don’t want people congregating in any way because we don’t want them to potentially get exposed to the virus while they’re waiting to get a vaccine for it … It’s going to be very focused and appointment-driven,” he said of the process once more vaccines are received.
As more vaccines become available they will be available at more locations across the county, Ranade added.
“Over time it might become more routine to get these vaccines in your primary care provider’s office.”
Asked why people will have to continue to wear facemasks and socially distance after they receive the vaccine, Ranade said it’s because some people have COVID-19 with little or no symptoms and researchers still aren’t sure if the vaccine will stop transmission of the virus.
“I hope to be able to say that soon,” he explained. “We need more experience with that.”
Ranade said Sarnia-Lambton was originally supposed to get the Pfizer vaccine for its first shipment, but because of the recent delay in the Pfizer vaccine distribution, the region received the Moderna vaccine first. He said the Moderna vaccine is actually a bit easier to work with.
Of the safety of the vaccines, Ranade said both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are safe and effective.
“The level and quality of evidence that is required for our regulators to approve a vaccine is substantially high,” he said, adding, “The evidence standard for the regulation of things that are injected into your body is incredibly high.”
Beyond the shipments received last week and expected this week, Ranade said Jan. 26 he hadn’t yet been informed when future vaccines would arrive in the county.
In a press release, Ranade said last week of the vaccine shipment, “This is an important milestone in our pandemic response and Lambton Public Health is proud to play a lead role in this historic vaccination program along with our key partners on the Lambton COVID-19 Immunization Task Force.”
Lambton residents can visit getthevaccine.ca for more information about the vaccine rollout plan in the county.