THUNDER BAY - Individuals in the Thunder Bay District with high-risk health conditions are being encouraged to book an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre has been directed to begin offering the vaccine to help protect those with underlying health conditions and are at increased risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19.
Adrianne Shippam, the hospital's COVID-19 vaccination task-force lead, said they've already started vaccinating those in the provincially designated highest risk categories and expects they'll drop down to the high-risk category in the coming days.
"The plan for Phase 2 was outlined by the province and how we navigate through Phase 2 is directed by Public Health. There's an algorithm provided to us by the province and then our local Thunder Bay District Health Unit determines which of our clinics will target which population. So we were directed to start to focus on individuals with the eligible high-risk health conditions," Shippam said in an interview on Tuesday afternoon.
The highest-risk health conditions identified by the TBRHSC include organ transplant recipients, stem cell transplant recipients, neurological diseases where lung function may be compromised (such as motor neuron disease, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis), blood cancer diagnosed within the last year, and kidney disease with eGFR less than 30 mL/min.Essential caregivers for individuals in the above-mentioned groups are also eligible.
"We started on Monday, so we were able to target some of these individuals a little bit earlier on through some of our specialty clinics, so through the cancer centre, through our renal program and our neurology program," Shippam said.
"Now we've opened up to the public through our website and through our social media to make sure that we provide opportunity to all individuals with these eligible health conditions that may not access these specialty clinics."
At present, all of the hospital clinic's patients are being vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. Shippam said they usually vaccinate between 250 and 500 people per day, depending on vaccine availability.
Anyone with these conditions can schedule an appointment online with the TBRHSC vaccine clinic.
Cancer patients currently taking or have previous treatment with the drug ipilumumab, have had an allergic reaction to chemotherapy or other treatment, or enrolled in a clinical trial should contact their physician prior to scheduling a vaccine appointment.
Individuals who live outside of the city of Thunder Bay and qualify for a vaccine, but are unable to travel, can contact their primary health care provider about scheduling an appointment.
Under the direction of the province’s chief medical officer of health, second doses will be administered 16 weeks after the first dose.
Vaccine appointments can be made on the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre vaccine booking website.