Quinte Health Care commences COVID vaccine program

TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT- Jayla Kirkham, a Registered Nurse who works at QHC Trenton Memorial Hospital, receives her vaccination from Sarah Leitch, a Registered Practical Nurse from Hastings Prince Edward Public Health. (QHC Photo)
JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

Thursday marked a welcome shot in the arm for Quinte Health Care’s frontline staff and physicians.

A COVID‐19 Vaccination Clinic for highest priority frontline staff and physicians at QHC was launched in the Education Centre at Belleville General Hospital.

Dr. Julie Bryson, a Belleville-based Family Physician who is also QHC’s Chief of Family Medicine and Jayla Kirkham, a Registered Nurse who works at QHC Trenton Memorial Hospital, were the first two vaccine recipients at QHC.

“Getting the vaccine is a tremendous relief following a demanding year dealing with the pandemic ‐ we are finally on the offensive in the war against COVID,” explained Dr. Bryson. “The pandemic has created a crisis landscape that has required remarkable adaptability, resiliency and determination to work through. The vaccine is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. I’m proud to get the shot in order to protect my patients, my family members, my colleagues and the communities we serve.”

“I’m excited,” added Kirkham, as she waited for her shot. “I’m looking forward to finally being vaccinated. We’ve been anticipating this for a few months and it’s definitely a sense of relief.”

QHC is working under the guidance of Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) to support the completion of Phase 1 of the distribution plan, by beginning to inoculate highest priority frontline staff and physicians.The immediate priority for first‐dose vaccination includes highest priority health care workers, in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s guidance on Health Care Worker Prioritization. At QHC hospitals, that means frontline staff and physicians in the following departments: Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Departments, Operating Room and Recovery Room, Quinte 5, Anesthesia, and the COVID Assessment Centre (swabbing staff only).

On Monday afternoon, an email went out to approximately 1,000 QHC staff members and physicians in the highest priority group and within 24 hours, about half had submitted a pre‐registration form to be booked in for the vaccination dose. Currently, QHC has received 760 pre‐registration submissions and clerks are busy arranging and confirming appointments as quickly as they can.

QHC is operating internal clinics daily for the first nine days and then five days per week in subsequent weeks depending on supply allocations. The hospital group said in an announcement it would have preferred to have vaccination clinics at each hospital, similar to the process of administering annual flu shot clinics,  the COVID‐19 Vaccination Clinic will be held at QHC Belleville General Hospital in the Education Centre in order to minimize the risks associated with transporting the Pfizer vaccine.

This means frontline staff and physicians in the priority group from all four QHC hospitals will travel to BGH to receive the vaccination. However, given the distance, eligible frontline staff at QHC North Hastings Hospital will have the option to receive the vaccine as part of an upcoming clinic held by Hastings Prince Edward Public Health in Bancroft.

The general public is encouraged to visit hpepublichealth.ca/covid‐19‐vaccines/ for more information about the COVID‐19 vaccination program.

QHC is also asking the public not to contact hospitals, public health or your doctor’s office about vaccination at this time.

“It will take time for COVID‐19 vaccines to be distributed to everyone in the community and each group will be specifically identified and notified in advance to plan for vaccination. The clinics at QHC at this time are only for the highest priority frontline staff and physicians at Quinte Health Care,” the statement said.