The Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Wellness Committee will have a local role to play in vaccinations, primarily in the area of communications.
After a meeting of the committee Monday, which included Lord Mayor Betty Disero, Sean Simpson of Simpson’s Pharmacy, and Mary Keith, executive director of the Niagara North Family Health team, chair Cindy Grant said there is some confusion and concern amongst residents of the vaccination plan.
The first location is expected to be the community centre, although there is no date available about when vaccinations will begin.
The wellness committee wanted to talk about a made-in-NOTL vaccination plan, including local stakeholders in the discussion, says Grant.
The province has dictated certain terms of the vaccination roll-out, including a priority list of the order in which people are able to receive their doses. Other details are left up to the region, and Niagara Public Health is working on plans for vaccination clinics in each municipality, all depending on a timeline for the arrival of vaccine.
“We’re swimming in the dark, with so many unknowns,” says Grant, who offered the committee’s assistance, saying members could help with communicating information to the public as it becomes available.
Keith told the committee the family health team has been asked to provide volunteers, and that as Public Health reaches out to the health team, “my understanding is we’ll be asked to provide staffing at some level, but I don’t get the sense we’ll be asked to organize anything.”
She has also been asked to provide lists in five-year age brackets, which was easy to do.
But later in the afternoon, Keith received an email she shared with Grant, with information to make public, saying the province announced that those aged 80 and above should contact their doctor to be vaccinated, so the family health team could expect to get phone calls and inquires from patients.
However, the health team staff had no details to give patients, or any idea of what should be collected in the way of information from patients.
The information that will be given to patients on the family health team website and through social media is that while they know people 80 years and older will be given priority for vaccination, they have no information yet about where or when vaccinations will take place, how appointments for vaccinations will be booked, how patients will be notified, or who will be notifying patients.
Grant says although the wellness committee also has little information to share, they understand everyone is anxious to know more about the vaccination process. The committee has offered to communicate with residents, asking them please to be patient, and assuring them information will be made public as it’s available.