Health officials have begun to administer the first doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to long-term care residents in Ontario on Thursday.
The vaccine was delivered around 9:30 a.m. to Chester Village, a long-term care home in Toronto’s Danforth neighbourhood that has yet to experience a serious outbreak of COVID-19 since the pandemic was declared.
“It’s very emotional,” CEO Cynthia Marinelli told CTV News Toronto Thursday morning as the first batches of the Moderna vaccine were dropped at their doorstep.
“We’ve been very fortunate here to be spared any significant outbreak with our staff or residents. And today has been a long time coming and gives us some hope for the future, not only for our residents but for all residents in Ontario and across Canada.”
Marinelli said that 197 of the home’s 198 residents have given their consent to be vaccinated on Thursday.
“Happy New Years to them,” she said, adding that 55 per cent of employees at Chester Village have already received the COVID-19 vaccine.
The first resident to receive the vaccine was retired nurse Sheila Barber. Marinelli said she was chosen because she was “very excited to be participating.”
Two days earlier, the chair of the province’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force said that about 50,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine were expected to be transferred to Ontario’s care today after the federal government received the supply in Toronto last week and that some of those doses would be delivered to four sites in hot spots across southern Ontario.
“We want to go into one or two or three long-term care homes, we want to do it very carefully,” Retired General Rick Hillier said on Tuesday. “We want to vaccinate the residents there using the staff in the homes where it’s possible, augmenting them where it’s necessary and preparing a playbook from that.”
The Moderna vaccine is much easier to transport compared to the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine—which needs to be stored in an area with a temperature of at least -70C—making it an ideal option for deployment at long-term care homes.
Seniors have been hardest hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Of the more than 4,500 deaths in Ontario related to the disease, 2,777 were residents at long-term care homes.
There are currently 204 long-term care homes grappling with an outbreak of COVID-19. An outbreak has also been declared at 109 retirement homes, according to today’s epidemiological summary.
According to the Ministry of Health, more than 24,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario as of 10 a.m. on Thursday.