2,000 COVID-19 vaccination appointments available in Elgin and Oxford starting Tuesday
WOODSTOCK, ONT. -- The excitement is palpable for seniors in Elgin and Oxford counties.
Beginning Tuesday, COVID-19 vaccination appointments for residents over age 80, Indigenous adults over 55 and additional health care workers will open for booking.
At South Gate Centre (SGC) in Woodstock, 82-year-old Karen Seguin was taking part in a fitness class. She's thrilled that it is finally her turn.
"I've been watching people all over the world putting on Facebook 'I've got my shot!' and we haven't even had a shot at getting our shot yet," says Seguin.
Until now, residents in those counties could book appointments in London, but appointments at clinics in Woodstock and St. Thomas are set to begin next week.
Worried about driving to and from London alone has stopped Seguin from heading for a vaccine at the Western Fair District Agriplex.
Starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) says appointments at Goff Hall (381 Finkle St. in Woodstock) and the St. Thomas-Elgin Memorial Arena (80 Wilson Ave. in St. Thomas) will become available for booking.
"We will receive 2,000 doses of vaccine from province, and we have plans to put every dose in arms by the end of the week," says Jamie Fletcher, program manager of the SWPH COVID-19 Vaccination Task Force, "Our plan at SWPH is as that vaccine arrives, it goes into arms. We don't want a single dose left in the freezer."
Appointments can be booked by selecting the desired location from a drop-down menu here, or by phone at 226-289-3560 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Fletcher says there are only 2,000 appointments for the first week, but as more vaccine arrives, the numbers will ramp up. SWPH hopes to soon have between 5,000 and 6,000 weekly appointments.
"Blocks of appointments open based on vaccine supply...If you do not get an appointment on the first day, or cannot get through by phone, don’t panic," says Fletcher. "You will have an opportunity to try again very shortly. More appointments will become available regularly."
Seguin says she won't wait for hours Tuesday but will try multiple times to register.
She admits she did panic a little when hearing she could book an appointment.
"I'm anxious," she says. "It's not about getting a shot, it's getting the time and getting there."
The SGC staff have been speaking with its senior members, trying to reduce their anxiety.
"We have just put out the information and phone numbers as well as printing paperwork for them," says Chris Cunningham, executive director of SCG. "We are more than happy to help them with anything they need."
Cunningham says word those in her community can start receiving their vaccines locally is a boost in morale.
"This is exciting news because vaccines will open the doors and bring more people into the facility," says Cunningham.
"Card players haven’t played cards in over a year, and congregate dining is another piece too. Senior centres are such hubs for older adults - a place you belong, a place to come together and feel you are a part of something. That's been ripped out of communities and its changed lives dramatically."
Seguin says she’s looking forward to getting back together with friends, and getting a vaccine shot will bring 'peace of mind.'