Leeds, Grenville & Lanark opens COVID-19 vaccination clinics; almost 3,000 receive first dose

Vaccine File

The first of four vaccination clinics in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark opened Tuesday in Kemptville, with approximately 175 health care workers from Kemptville District Hospital receiving their first dose.

Deborah Allingham, an occupational health practitioner at Kemptville District Hospital, was one of the first health workers to receive the first dose.

"As health care workers, we have been waiting a long time for the vaccination program," said Allingham, tearing up. "The feeling yesterday was one of excitement and everyone was quite elated and happy."

"Dr. Suzanne Rutherford is spearheading the operation through the assessment centre and the fixed vaccination site. Her team are working very closely with Lanark, Leeds, Grenville public health and so the schedule is going to be determined based on the availability of vaccine," added Allingham.

While she couldn't speak to the specifics of a schedule and vaccine availability, she was adamant that Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Public Health and the team at the vaccination centre will get as many people through as possible.

"I've been an occupational health nurse for quite some time and I have worked closely with LG&L Public Health a number of times over the years," said Allingham. "I am super proud of them."

"They've been put in a position where they are not going to please everybody but they are doing their best with the resources they have and the ministry direction of course," she added. "They just want to vaccinate as many people as they can."

"It's been a really long haul," Allingham added, saying the pandemic has been ongoing for almost a year and a lot of health care workers are getting tired.

"The vaccine program and the rollout for us, as far as I'm concerned, it's an end in sight," she added.

Dr. Paula Stewart, medical officer of health with the LG&L Health Unit, said almost 3,000 people in the county have now received their first dose.

"Last week, 375 new people were immunized and 562 had the second dose," said Stewart. "We're very excited about the clinics being opened."

Stewart said big plans will continue for vaccine rollout next week, including second doses in long-term care homes.

"We've got, sort of, three things going - the second dose, the new first dose in retirement homes and the health care workers in the clinics," Stewart said.

"It really marks a new part of the vaccine program. The 80-year-olds who live in the community, we are thinking probably by mid-March we'll have enough vaccine that we can add them to the vaccine program," added Stewart.

"Just hang in a little bit, it's going to come soon and we'll let you know when that is and how you can get your appointment.

"Everything is so dependant on how much vaccine we get and each week we find out, so like two or three days before what we're going to get on the Monday and then we go from there," Stewart said.

Brockville resident carol fisher is 80 and thinks the rollout has been slow.

"I think it's awful. It's awful slow.....I am anxiously awaiting and patiently awaiting but we're still, like hanging you know? We don't really know where we're supposed to be at to get in line and on a list for these vaccines," Fisher said.

"There's a lot of ifs right? If they get the ordered amount of vaccines in or if they are going to be short."

When told the rollout for her age group would happen in mid-March, she got excited.

"That can't come soon enough. Spring is in the air and I walk my dog and I get my exercise and I just need my vaccine and I'll be 100 per cent happy," Fisher said.

The Almonte clinic will open on Thursday, while the Brockville clinic will open at the Brockville Memorial Centre in the next few days along with the one in Smiths Falls.