Sarnia-Lambton officials still awaiting word on COVID-19 vaccine’s arrival

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Despite skyrocketing numbers over the last month, local public health officials still don’t know when the first shipments of COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in Sarnia-Lambton.

Dr. Sudit Ranade, Lambton’s medical officer of health, said planning is underway to ensure it gets to the highest priority population when it does arrive, but they don’t know when that will be. But he also said it’s important to “disentangle” the connection between the rollout of vaccines and areas with increasing numbers of cases.

“Right now if our objective is to save lives, then the people we need to target are over 80 years old,” Ranade said. “Where are those people? All across the province, and regardless of what the level of prevalence is in any one community if COVID gets into a place like a long-term care home, retirement home, we’ve seen the impact there.”

Sixteen of Sarnia-Lambton’s 28 COVID-19 deaths have been residents at local seniors’ homes, including 10 at hard-hit Vision Nursing Home this past spring.


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“I know we’re on the list. I would say it’s not really about our numbers. Our seniors are just as important as seniors everywhere in the country and everywhere in Ontario,” Ranade said. “That is the larger priority for me.”

Bob Bailey, Sarnia-Lambton’s Progressive Conservative MPP, released a statement this week saying the region will be part of the second of three phases in the province’s vaccine rollout plan.

“I have been in constant contact with the Ministry of Health, Lambton public health and Bluewater Health, who have all assured me that Lambton County’s most vulnerable citizens and critical health-care workers will receive vaccinations as soon as they are available for distribution in Phase 2,” Bailey said.

Phase 2 will be introduced “in the coming weeks,” he added.

A ministry spokesperson didn’t immediately respond Friday to a request for when the vaccine would arrive locally and how many doses would be included.

Phase 1 started Dec. 15, Bailey said. The rollout’s being carried out in accordance with an ethical framework developed by the province in partnership with the COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force, he said.

“We know that people are eager to get vaccinated and this framework helps ensure that we do it in an ethical, effective and compassionate way,” he said.

Ranade said health officials recently received “very encouraging news” about being able to move the Pfizer vaccine that has to be stored at –70 C.


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“We can actually take that vaccine into long-term care homes and retirement homes in order to immunize those people first as a priority and then roll everything else out from there,” he said.

Sarnia-Lambton had 1,138 confirmed COVID-19 cases Friday – 48 more than the previous day – after Lambton public health released its daily online report. The amount of active cases fell by 10 to 221. A total of 889 cases were listed as resolved, an increase of 58.

The number of outbreaks sat at 15 for the third straight day. Seven long-term care and retirement homes, two schools and seven workplaces were affected.

Bluewater Health reported seven patients with COVID-19 in hospital Friday, the same number as the previous two days.

The region, along with the rest of the province, is in a 28-day lockdown.