Norfolk General Hospital and the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit have received the first shipment of the Health Canada approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the prioritization framework determined by the Province, vaccinations will first be provided to those most at risk: residents of long-term care facilities and health care providers who are working in higher risk settings.

“The vaccination of our community’s most at-risk individuals is positive step, but it does not mean that the pandemic is over,” says Medical Officer of Health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai. “Until a significant proportion of people have been immunized against COVID-19, it remains critical that we all remain vigilant against the spread of the virus. Continue to stay home unless there is a compelling reason to leave the house. Wear a mask when you must go out, and wash your hands frequently.”

While Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination roll-out is being organized by the province, hospital and health unit staff will work closely with long-term care providers to ensure vaccinations are successfully administered.

“Today is a very historic day for our hospital and a huge step forward in how our region will combat against Covid-19,” says NGH & WHGH President and CEO Lucy Bonanno. “We hope this marks the beginning of the end of a difficult time for our hospital and the communities we serve. We look forward to working with our hospital partners on getting this historic project off the ground and we hope it will have a positive impact on our communities.”

“News of us receiving the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine is very encouraging,” says Kim Mullins, VP of patient care and chief nursing officer at NGH and WHGH. ” Our CEO & President Lucy Bonanno has been advocating at the highest level for our region to receive the first doses of the vaccine.” NGH and WHGH are proud to take part in this effort. We can now see a ray of light during a challenging time.”

The first clinic will not be open to the general public. Those identified to receive the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be contacted. Clinic planning is underway based on provincial guidelines. The details will be released when available.