Maria Dos Santos was the first long-term care resident in Niagara-on-the-Lake to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
She received her first dose of the two-part Pfizer vaccine last Thursday, with Dr. Tim Bastedo of the Niagara North health team at her side.
Marg Lambert, Upper Canada Lodge administrator, said as of last Thursday almost all residents had been vaccinated. The home is waiting to hear from Niagara public health to confirm the official date for the second dose of the vaccine.
So far, the facility, operated by the Region of Niagara, is the only NOTL long-term care home that has not had an outbreak of COVID-19, according to public health officials.
“The team worked hard to get everything in place right away to ensure the home was prepared to run the vaccine clinic,” Lambert said in response to questions from The Lake Report.
“The experience unfolded smoothly, including receiving all of the required consents and health examinations from doctors to confirm if it was safe for the resident to receive the vaccination.”
She said the process only took about two hours.
“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, our director of care who invited Dr. Tim Bastedo, medical director to participate along with our registered staff of the home,” she said.
“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.”
When asked if any residents opted out of the vaccine, she said for privacy reasons she couldn't give specifics, but that 96 per cent of Upper Canada residents were vaccinated.
As for staff vaccinations, she said the home is working on booking appointments for staff to get their vaccination at the St. Catharines hospital site, with about 80 per cent of staff booked already.
“We are encouraged by how the process has gone so far. It has provided a feeling of optimism for everyone living and working at Upper Canada Lodge,” Lambert said.
“It was very exciting when the vaccine arrived at the home with all the staff cheering as it made its way into the home.”
She said residents were also excited to get their vaccination as it 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.
“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,” Lambert said.
For now, the Wellington Street facility will continue to maintain all of its 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 as we cannot let our guard down now,” she said.