First vaccines administered in Kingston

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A Kingston nurse was the first person to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Workers and residents in long-term care homes, along with designated essential caregivers, are at the front of the line for the first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which arrived Tuesday morning at Kingston General Hospital.

Extendicare nurse Nanette Isaac was the first of the 75 people jabbed Tuesday.

“This gives me tremendous hope and confidence that I am doing everything I can to protect myself and stay healthy for my friends, family and the residents of the care home,” Isaac stated in a news release issued by Kingston Health Sciences Centre.

The aim is to administer the first dose — the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two of them — to 1,900 long-term care and “high-risk retirement home” health-care workers and residents, KHSC CEO and president Dr. David Pichora said in the same release.

“This signals brighter days ahead,” he continued. “It also represents the tremendous amount of collaboration — among health-care partners including all three public health agencies in the region — that has made it possible to be ready to deliver a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine to the prioritized group in southeastern Ontario.”

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The clinic set up inside KGH to administrate the vaccine — which is done only by invitation — will remain in place until it’s no longer needed, the news release states.

KHSC is working with the three public health agencies in southeastern Ontario — stretching from Belleville to Brockville — to set up a mobile vaccination clinic to inoculate long-term care residents and workers in their respective regions.

While those who live or work in long-term care and retirement homes are first in line, vaccines will eventually be offered to the general public.

“We are confident that everyone who chooses to be vaccinated for COVID-19 will be able to receive the vaccine when there is sufficient supply of this and other vaccines in the coming months, and as vaccination and distribution are expanded beyond hospital sites,” Pichora stated in the news release.

KHSC’s medical director of infection prevention and control, Dr. Gerald Evans, urged continued diligence in physical distancing, mask-wearing and handwashing for those waiting to be vaccinated.

“COVID-19 vaccination will help us better manage the pandemic and help us protect and care for our most vulnerable patients, but we can’t let our guard down and must continue to take the safety precautions necessary to protect everyone in our communities,” Pichora said in the release.

The vaccine — which is stored at -70 C in two recently purchased medical-grade freezers — has to be administered within six hours of being diluted.

Selected members of the general public are expected to be vaccinated starting in April.