COVID Vaccines Offered for a Second Time at all of Ottawa’s LTCHs
Second round offerings of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to eligible residents at LTCHs have been ongoing. On Friday afternoon February 5th, the second visit to all of Ottawa’s 28 LTCHs will be completed.
While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone, including these residents and those caring for them, to continue to practice public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Completion of second round offerings of vaccines in LTCHs is a milestone in protecting the vulnerable in our community. This is a significant achievement, however our goal to offer a vaccine to all eligible residents has only just begun. The city is ready, and our rollout relies on the availability of vaccine.
Arrival of the Moderna Vaccine
On Friday, February 5th, Ottawa Public Health received 40 trays of the Moderna vaccine from the Province of Ontario. Enough for 4,000 doses.
This is a noteworthy development as, prior to this shipment, our community had only received doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. These Pfizer-BioNTech doses have and will continue to be received by the Ottawa Hospital (TOH), which has the ultra-cold freezer capacity to store them.
Similarities and differences between the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines
After independent and thorough scientific reviews for safety, efficacy and quality, Health Canada approved for use in Canada the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on December 9th, 2020, and the Moderna vaccine on December 23rd, 2020.
The Pfizer-BioNTech is more challenging to transport and store — requiring temperatures between -70 and -80 C. Once it’s defrosted, it must be used relatively quickly. The Moderna trays are stable for up to a month at regular fridge temperatures and can be stored for up to six months at -20 C.
Both vaccines require two doses and have posted very high efficacy rates based on testing on thousands of people around the world. In clinical trials, both vaccines were higher than 90% effective.
For more information about the Moderna vaccine, please refer FAQs relating to the Pfizer vaccine and other questions are already available on Ottawa Public Health’s website with additional FAQs on Ottawa.ca.
Currently, no data exists on the interchangeability of COVID-19 vaccines. People will therefore receive two doses of the same vaccine.
Update on Storage and Logistics
The City’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has been preparing to receive COVID-19 vaccines for months. Under the ongoing declared municipal emergency, and in the context of a competitive global market for resources, the EOC was able to proactively order and receive freezers and other supplies required for the arrival, distribution and administration of Moderna.
The Moderna vaccines are being stored at a City of Ottawa facility with onsite storage and security. In addition, a Vaccine Supply and Distribution Centre has been established at another City facility which houses all supplies required to vaccinate Ottawa residents. This City facility complies with Provincial requirements relating to security, electrical redundancies and other considerations.
Deployment of Moderna
As per the Province’s Ethical Framework and phased approach to vaccine rollout, the Moderna supply received by OPH will be used to offer first doses of vaccine to residents living in high-risk retirement homes. Consistent with the approach used to prioritize long-term homes, OPH conducted a census of residences in order to rank retirement homes based on the established ethical framework, noted above, and the additional guidance provided by the province which defined high-risk retirement homes as those having memory care units or collocated with a LTCH.
The timeline for completion of first doses in all of Ottawa’s designated retirement homes is dependent on vaccine supply. The City’s mobile vaccination teams will be available to assist in the vaccination of retirement homes, as required.
The arrival of Moderna vaccines in Ottawa is a positive development, however, it will be several months until COVID-19 vaccines are available to the general public. In the meantime, it is essential that we all continue to practice public health measures to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in our community.