Since the start of the pandemic, long term care homes have been hit hard by COVID-19. They’ve had trouble keeping it away, but now vaccines are on the way. During Tuesday’s Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit update (SMDHU), Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Officer of Health for the SMDHU says that long term care residents and staff will be number one priority when it comes to receiving the vaccine.

“I think it’s always a matter of judgement, as to who you start with first. In my mind the very highest priority people to get this would be the residents of long term care facilities. Well over half of the deaths in the province and in Simcoe Muskoka have occurred in those settings, and in that group,” said Gardner.

Additionally, he added, “Those who provide care for them need to be protected for their own health and wellbeing, but also because; by protecting them, you’re protecting the residents. It forms a barrier to transmission that they too have been immunised. That would be where I would start.”

“I can think of others in the community who we need to get to soon… For example people who work at assessment centres, are seeing cases and potential cases every day. So, they would be definitely a priority group to get to soon as well. We have a limited supply of the vaccine now so; we have to work through priority groups.” –Said Gardner

Once the situation in the long term care homes improves, paramedics could be the next on the list to receive the COVID-19 vaccines.