A COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Chatham-Kent is opening at the John D. Bradley Convention Centre.

The clinic will begin Tuesday for appointment-only vaccine administration to staff and caregivers of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes.

“We’ll have 10 appointments every 15 minutes. So, 10 people coming through every 15 minutes, coming through the registration process, the vaccination process, the observation area process and checkout,”says site leader Willi Kirenko.

Kirenko says everyone who is expected to receive a shot will be notified of their appointment.

“Without an appointment, there will not be a vaccine given,” adds Kirenko.

Officials stress not to call the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit for an appointment, saying the province’s call centre and online registration system is expected to be ready in March.

Chatham-Kent is currently in Phase 1: A of The Ministry of Health’s vaccine prioritization rollout, with a focus on the highest priority population. It includes residents, staff and essential caregivers of long-term care, high-risk retirement and First Nations elder care homes. It also includes alternative level of care patients in hospitals as well as highest priority and very high priority health care workers.

Phase 1:B is expected to begin in March with a focus on adults 80 years or older, along with other staff, residents and caregivers in retirement homes and other congregate care settings for seniors. It also includes high priority health care workers in accordance with Ministry of Health guidance, adult recipients of chronic home care and Indigenous adults.

The general population is expected to start seeing its vaccine rollout between April and June. All phases are subject to change based on vaccine availability and direction from the province.

Medical officer of heath Dr. David Colby calls the vaccine clinic a major undertaking that has been in the works for months.

“We intend to vaccinate a large number of people here and our main limiting factor will be vaccine supply because we intend to burn through every bit of it very fast,” Colby says.

“If we can’t get any new vaccine supplies, meaning that Health Canada approves no more vaccines, then our current goal is to be finished in August, giving every eligible citizen in Chatham-Kent who wants to be vaccinated, the full vaccine course by that time. If suddenly we got a lot more vaccine, we could rocket through these stages a lot faster.”

Eventually, pop-up clinics in outlying rural communities, mobile teams, and vaccinations in pharmacies and doctors’ offices will complement the efforts made at the vaccination clinic.