By Sue Tiffin
An online system to book vaccination appointments opened by the provincial government on Monday [March 15] but the immunization schedule for Haliburton County does not open until Thursday [March 18], with vaccinations beginning at the Haliburton Family Medical Centre on March 22 and at the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena on April 5.
That means unless residents are comfortable travelling outside of the county for their vaccine, they should wait until March 18 to book a local appointment.
Residents who are 80 or older are currently the next priority group, defined by the Ontario Ministry of Health, to be vaccinated and can make an appointment by accessing the online portal at www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine or by calling 1-888-999-6488.
The Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team plans to start immunizing the 80-and-over population beginning March 22 until March 30.
“This relies heavily on vaccine inventory,” reads communication from the health team. “As of Friday we were promised that inventory.”
Communication from the local healthcare team first suggested that residents should get the vaccine in the area of their permanent address.
“Provincial vaccine supply and distribution is being delivered according to your permanent address (the primary address associated with your health card) and the vaccines that will be received into Haliburton County are intended for permanent residents,” read a Frequently Asked Questions information sheet released by local healthcare providers on March 10. This decision comes directly from the Ontario COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force.”
This week, some residents, however, have reported booking vaccine appointments outside of the county.
“Initially we were told that only residents could book locally, however that does not seem to be the case,” said Kimberley Robinson, executive director of the Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team. “What we may experience is a significant shortfall in vaccine if non-permanent residents are able to book locally. We will do what we can with the vaccine inventory we receive.”
The clinics will be held on the second floor of the Haliburton Family Medical Centre at 7217 Gelert Road from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday to Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Clinic dates will also be added for appointments at the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena at 55 Parkside Street in Minden, with appointments beginning the week of April 5.
An appointment must be made to receive a vaccination, and those appointments are currently only open to those born in 1941 or earlier. People with red and white health cards must call the booking number rather than registering online. After booking online or by phone, a booking confirmation code will be offered that must be brought with the registrant on the day of appointments.
The Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team, Haliburton Family Medical Centre, Haliburton Highlands Health Services and Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge district health unit do not have a waiting list and cannot book a vaccine appointment.
Dr. Ian Gemmill, acting medical officer of health for the local health unit, has asked that people do not call their family doctors.
While initial messaging suggested that only permanent residents of Haliburton County could be vaccinated in Haliburton County, on March 17, Gemmill clarified that when booking an appointment, residents of Ontario can choose to be vaccinated anywhere in Ontario and do not necessarily need to get the vaccine in their own community.
For those who don’t drive, or do not have friends or family that can offer a ride to the clinic, please contact the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Community Support Services transportation program at 705-457-2941, and press 1.
To prepare for the appointment, a COVID-19 vaccine screening and consent form that can be filled out in advance is available to print at the link below.
Alternatively, Rotary Minden has made paper copies available at locations around town including pharmacies.
A drive-through vaccine clinic begins at the Lindsay Exhibition fairgrounds on Thursday [March 18] for residents aged 80 and older. On Monday, Premier Doug Ford visited a mass vaccination clinic that is expected to be able to do 800 vaccinations a day at Cobourg Community Centre beginning Tuesday [March 16] – an initiative of healthcare providers, service clubs, community care agencies, first responders and hundreds of volunteers – in Northumberland County.
For more information visit http://www.hkpr.on.ca.