MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- With more of the COVID-19 vaccine being delivered, local health units will begin the vaccination of additional priority groups in Middlesex-London, Elgin-Oxford and Huron-Perth.

Starting Tuesday, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU), Southwestern Public Health and Huron Perth Public Health will be working with long-term care and retirement homes to vaccinate any staff or essential caregivers who have not yet been vaccinated.

MLHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie says low-risk retirement homes will be first.

"We also have the largest shipment to date that is expected this week of the Pfizer vaccine, which allows us to expand vaccinations to a whole range of new recipients. Retirement homes, of course, we know are the places that are most at risk so we will start with the low-risk retirement homes and other congregate settings for seniors. There will also be expanded eligibility for health care providers who are at higher risk because of their roles."

Additional priority groups identified in the first phase of the provincial vaccination plan will also be able to get their first dose.

According to the Provincial Vaccination Plan that group includes:

  • Staff and essential caregivers in long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes and First Nations elder care homes, and any residents of these settings that have not yet received a first dose of vaccine.
  • Alternative level of care patients in hospitals who have a confirmed admission to a long-term care home, retirement home or other congregate care home for seniors.
  • Highest Priority health care workers, followed by Very High Priority health care workers, in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s guidance on Health Care Worker Prioritization.
  • Indigenous adults in northern remote and higher risk communities (including on-reserve and urban communities).

That group is believed to encompass roughly 15,000 people in the Middlesex-London region alone.

While not yet eligible, people over 80 are likely to become eligible in the next couple of weeks and are next on the list for vaccination, Mackie added.

However, he acknowledged that they must continue to be mindful of the vaccine quantity that must be kept on hand to ensure second doses for the current group are available.

"We're still several months away from being able to offer vaccine to anyone who wants it."

Since Dec. 23, 2020, the three health units have administered more than 25,000 COVID-19 vaccinations.