Monday, January 18, 2021
MEMO FROM: Anthony Di Monte, General Manager of Emergency and Protective Services and Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health
The City’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), in collaboration with Ottawa Public Health (OPH), the Ottawa Hospital (TOH) and other health care partners are working together to vaccinate eligible residents against COVID-19, as quickly as possible, in accordance with the Provincial framework.
Vaccine Administration in Ottawa
Since the week of December 14, 2020, TOH has been receiving a steady supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. To date, Ottawa has not received any of the Moderna vaccine. According to data from the Ottawa Hospital, 22,425 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been received and 21,938 doses have been administered to date.
The supply for this week will be used to administer second doses to ensure that those individuals who have received the first round of vaccinations become immunized, as directed by the Province. The total amount of vaccine that will be distributed to the City of Ottawa next week, as well as following weeks, and precise delivery dates are not yet known. These decisions are also made by the Province.
On Friday, January 15 the Federal Government announced that Canada will be experiencing a temporary delay in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments and the anticipated shortage will result in an average of 50 per cent of doses delayed over the next month. While shipments will continue in the coming weeks, the City will receive fewer doses than previously anticipated.
Following the federal announcement, the Province announced new direction with respect to second doses, including:
- Long-term care and high-risk retirement home residents and their essential caregivers, who have received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, will receive their second dose in 21 to 27 days. Staff who were vaccinated in the homes at the same time as the residents will follow the same schedule.
- All other recipients of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine must receive their second dose after 21 days and before 42 days.
Currently in Ottawa, TOH receives the vaccine supply and maintains the inventory. Given the recent announcements TOH is reviewing how best to optimize the schedule of second doses over the next month to account for the anticipated shortage.
Most of the vaccines received to date have been administered at TOH clinic (16,580) to workers in long-term care and retirement homes, essential caregivers and health care workers in high-risk settings (i.e. COVID ward and emergency departments). Once the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was approved for transportation the week of January 4 the City’s rollout operations immediately shifted to focus on higher risk residents in longterm care homes.
As of January 15, 2021, the first dose of the vaccine has been made available to all 28 long-term care homes. Vaccinations were provided to residents, workers and essential caregivers. Over 92% of all LTCH residents received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Residents, staff and caregivers in 20 of the 28 long-term care homes were vaccinated by Ottawa’s mobile vaccination teams, which are rely on the Ottawa Paramedic Service for immunizers. Each team consisted of two paramedics to administer the vaccine, one paramedic to provide patient care, and one OPH public health nurse to provide overall leadership and one OPH staff member for administrative support. Several of these teams were deployed to each location, based on the number of residents, staff and essential caregivers. The remaining long-term care homes’ staff were able to vaccinate their residents, workers and essential caregivers with onsite nurses working in those facilities. Additionally, TOH and CHEO provided pharmacy staff to support the dilution of the vaccine on site.
OPH followed the provincial ethical framework to prioritize COVID-19 vaccine roll-out and prioritized long-term care homes to ensure the appropriate sequencing. The ethical framework is based on the principals of stewardship, trust, equity and transparency. The framework evaluates the patient population risk of exposure; the risk of severe disease or outcomes, and health system capacity to ensure ongoing care to the population. There is a limited number of vaccines available and therefore, the vaccine distribution framework helps guide decisions to ensure equitable distribution. It also supports the goal of reducing the risk to Ottawa residents who are more severely impacted by COVID-19.
In addition to the 28 long-term care homes that have been provided the opportunity to receive their first doses, one high-risk retirement home and one congregate care home with older adults have also been provided the opportunity to receive their first doses, given the availability of vaccine supply. Both homes were experiencing exceptional health concerns and as a result, OPH prioritized the administration of vaccines to these two additional sites to protect our community, in-line with the provincial guidance to protect high risk homes following the LTCHs.
Next Steps in Phase 1
In the coming weeks, the focus will be to administer second doses to those who have already received their first dose of the vaccine. The timeline for completion is dependent on the supply of vaccine the city receives from the Province.
As supply allows, the focus will shift to higher risk retirement homes identified by OPH in accordance with the ethical framework, described above. Select congregate care settings for older adults and high-risk healthcare workers will follow under Phase 1 of the Provincial approach. Other Phase 1 populations to be immunized are adult members of First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities and adults with chronic home care.
OPH has established a local Vaccine Sequence Strategy Task Force to advise the City’s EOC on how to implement the sequence of vaccines given local context, including maximizing uptake among groups sequenced ahead of others. This Task Force includes representation from groups highly affected by COVID-19, such as newcomers, Indigenous, racialized people, older adults, and healthcare workers. The Vaccine Sequencing Task Force relies on the framework established by the Province of Ontario.
New tools to provide situational awareness
Given the planning assumptions relating to timelines and availability of vaccines and the roles of various partners and stakeholders, OPH and the City’s EOC are collaborating to do all that we can to ensure Ottawa residents who want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to access it as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, these plans are subject to change, and this reflects the current planning assumptions at this time. The total amount of vaccine that will be distributed to the City of Ottawa and precise delivery dates are not yet known. These decisions are made by the Province and subject to vaccine availability from the federal government.
The City’s Data Management, Monitoring and Surveillance team has been working on a mechanism to update the public on the number of vaccines supplied and administered in Ottawa. Effective today, the number of vaccines received, and vaccines administered will appear in the OPH COVID-19 Daily Dashboard and will initially reside on the ‘Vaccination and Testing’ page. These numbers will be updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Further, EOC staff are committed to providing situational awareness to Members of Council. Beginning this week, the Incident Commander of the EOC Command Team will provide weekly updates to Councillor’s offices, which will include an updated FAQ document to assist with inquiries from constituents.
It is important to note that it will be several months until a vaccine is available to the general public. In the meantime, we all must continue to do our part to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in the community: limit your close contacts to those within your household, practice physical distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands, stay home except for essential reasons and follow local and Provincial guidance.