“Good news” as health unit begins vaccine roll-out

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The Renfrew County and District Health Unit says it has “good news” for area residents as it has successfully begun its COVID-19 vaccine roll-out for “priority populations.”

In a statement late Friday afternoon, the health unit said that with its health care partners, it has successfully completed five COVID-19 vaccination clinics and provided first vaccinations to 396 people.

In addition, the health unit said there are currently no COVID outbreaks to report. As of Friday, the region has just three active cases of COVID-19.

Schools in Renfrew County were one of seven regions able to return to in-person learning on January 25, “a testament to our efforts in curbing numbers here in RCD,” the health unit added.

“Looking at the data, schools are not a concern as only 22 high school and elementary school attendees tested positive, which is only seven percent of the total cases. Of which, 70 percent were brought into the school, so only a small number occurred within the schools.

“The schools are doing a good job,” said Dr. Robert Cushman, acting medical officer of health.

The health unit announced Tuesday that it had completed the first on-site vaccine clinic at Valley Manor Long-Term Care Home in Barry’s Bay.

“This is in accordance with the January 25 provincial government announcement that each long-term care, high-risk retirement home and First Nations elder care home residents in the province would receive first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by February 5, 2021.”

Dr. Cushman said the health unit was asking residents “to be patient during this time.”

“We will release more information on timelines and vaccine roll out as it becomes available. It is our firm hope that keeping our case numbers low and rolling out the vaccines will put this behind us.”

“By in large we are doing a great job, but as I have said many times, we have to remain vigilant,” Cushman added Friday.

“What we have noticed is that approximately 55 percent of all of our cases are in people under the age of 40. This presents some clear messages – COVID-19 can affect anybody. We saw this in the death of a nineteen-year-old in Southwestern Ontario.

“We need to protect our grandmothers or grandfathers from becoming ill. This means we all must be careful. If we want this good news to continue and the economy to re-open, we all need to continue to work hard to do our part. No parties and no gatherings,” he concluded.

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