Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

A joint letter on COVID-19 vaccine rollout

A joint letter on COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021

Subject: Vaccination roll-out

Dear Premier Ford and Minister Elliott:

Our members/staff are engaged community health providers who have been fighting on the front lines of the
COVID-19 pandemic since it began. We are aware that vulnerable and home-bound individuals in the
community are slated as the next priority group to receive vaccinations. These people are cared for by our
providers.

While we understand that currently, there is a shortage of vaccines, and that this reality is outside of the
province’s control, we are concerned that there is not a transparent plan around how needles are going to get
into the arms of people identified to be in Stage 2, namely those that are vulnerable and/or home-bound and
the providers that care for them.

The province must use this delay to engage with us NOW, so that we are ready to deploy our existing vaccine
capabilities to reach our patients expeditiously. Waiting will result in damaging delays. Trying to recreate
alternative distribution networks when they currently exist will result in further damaging delays and confusion.

Community health care providers, including primary care nurses, doctors, and pharmacists, as well as home care
nurses have demonstrated experience reaching out to our patients to deliver vaccines. Our members/staff are
trained in vaccine handling and program delivery. Patients trust their health care providers the most and for the
vulnerable, homebound patients, it is imperative that they receive vaccines from the people who know them
best. 34 Public Health Units with 34 different approaches – for the most vulnerable there needs to be a
consistent approach so that they do not fall through the cracks.

It has been well-established since November, that the Pfizer vaccine has a shelf-life of five days after freezing.
The risk of our members/staff not utilizing the vaccinations within this time frame is non-existent, as collectively
SE Health, VON and Bayshore complete over 40,000 home visits per day. Unlike the recent vaccine rollout, we
are certain that doses provided to our members/staff will be used on the cohorts for which they were intended.

We base this on our experience delivering vaccination programs, on the number of people we serve and our
ability to access them quickly.

Many who can travel to appointments should be vaccinated through their primary care providers and those who
are home-bound will require visits from community nurses. Use our expertise as vaccines are our ‘bread and
butter’ and we know our patients best. 

Our members/staff need to be ready to mobilize immediately. For this reason, we are asking for more provincial
direction to plan this critical effort and need government and public health leadership to engage with us. We
are all in this together.

Sincerely,

Kavita Mehta
Chief Executive Officer
Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario

Stuart Cottrelle
Chief Executive Officer
Bayshore Healthcare

Leanne Clarke
Chief Executive Officer
Ontario College of Family Physicians

Dr. Doris Grinspun RN, MSN, PhD, LLD (hon), Dr (hc), FAAN, FCAN O.ONT
Chief Executive Officer
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Shirlee Sharkey
Chief Executive Officer
SE Health 

Jo-Anne Poirier
Chief Executive Officer
VON Canada

Dr. Cathy Faulds, MD, CCFP, FCFP, CAC (PC)
Family Physician Focus Practice in Palliative Care

Dr. Thuy-Nga (Tia) Pham, MD, MSc, CCFP, FCFP
East Toronto Family Health Team Physician Lead

cc.
Matthew Anderson, President and CEO – Ontario Health
Helen Angus, Deputy Minister of Health
Emily Beduz, Director of Pandemic Response
Alison Blair, Associate Deputy Minister – Pandemic Response and Recovery
Steven Del Duca, Ontario Liberal Party Leader
Colleen Geiger, President and CEO (acting) – Public Health Ontario
MPP France Gelinas, NDP Health Critic
Andrea Horwath, NDP Leader
Joyce Mankarios, Director of Policy
Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario
Rana Shamoon, Director of Health Policy (Office of the Premier)
James Wallace, Chief of Staff (to the Premier)
Heather Watt, Chief of Staff (to the Minister of Health)

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