Last Thursday, 96 per cent of the residents of Upper Canada Lodge were given the Pfizer vaccination to protect against COVID-19.
They were the first seniors’ home in Niagara-on-the-Lake to receive their share of the vaccine.
Marg Lambert, the long-term care home administrator, says they are waiting for Public Health to confirm the official date for the important second dose.
A news release from Niagara Health Monday says that supply shortages of the Pfizer vaccine are resulting in changes to Niagara’s vaccination plan, with the directive that all first doses of vaccine are to be used to vaccinate residents, staff and essential caregivers in long-term care and high-risk retirement homes, with the second dose to be administered 21 to 27 days later.
With vaccinations starting in Niagara just last Wednesday, Upper Canada Lodge didn’t have long to wait.
“We were fortunate to actually receive the vaccinations early. We worked really hard to get everything in place right away, including consents from the residents or their substitute decision-makers,” says Lambert.
The lodge also had its doctors review every resident’s chart to confirm if it was safe for them to receive the vaccination, she says.
“We were able to let Public Health know that we were ready prior to the start of the resident vaccination program, and we really appreciated the efficient work done by the nursing team and the doctors to make this happen.”
The vaccinations, she says, “went amazingly well. Public Health staff were on site to assist with preparing the vaccine for the residents, and completing the necessary paperwork.” The resident vaccination clinic was organized by Denise Murphy, the home’s director of care, and Dr. Tim Bastedo, the home’s medical director, was invited to participate along with staff of the home. The actual vaccination of the residents took only two hours, she says. “Following the vaccinations, our nursing staff were completing follow-up checks on every resident throughout the day, and of course documentation in the residents’ charts.”
Appointments are now being booked for staff to get their shots at the Niagara Health St. Catharines Hospital site.
“At this point,” says Lambert, “we have close to 80 per cent of the staff booked to get their vaccination.”
Having residents vaccinated, she says, “provided a feeling of optimism for everyone living and working at Upper Canada Lodge.”
It was exciting to see the vaccine arrive, “with all the staff cheering as it made its way into the home.”
Residents were also excited to get their vaccination, which “gives them hope that in the future, things may be able to get back to normal, and they can once again visit with and hug their family members,” says Lambert.
The vaccine “is one extra step to protect our residents and staff from having serious outcomes if they get COVID-19, and of course we will have to do the second dose and wait another two weeks before we are at maximum protection.”
At this point, she adds, “we will continue to maintain all of our infection prevention and control practices and testing. It is extremely important that everyone continues to wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, keep your social contacts just to your household and stay home if you are not well. This is another step in the right direction,” she says. “We cannot let our guard down now.”