Kingston-area public health secures 2 arenas for mass COVID-19 immunization sites

KFL&A Public Health has announced two local arenas will be used for mass coronavirus vaccinations once the region receives adequate supply of vaccines. When that will happen seems to be still up in the air.

But the health unit said it has secured both Kingston’s INVISTA Centre and Napanee’s Strathcona Paper Centre for mass vaccination clinics when the time comes.

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The INVISTA Centre will still provide municipal services to residents, including access to the health and fitness centre, three ice rinks and the hockey pro shop. Only one arena, the MNP rink, will be used for vaccinations and will be accessible through a different entrance.

But these two locations will only be put into play once the province has “adequate vaccine supply” available for the Kingston region, the health unit says.

The health unit has not made it clear when the two arenas will be opened for mass vaccinations, but Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for the region, said once the time does come, local health officials will be able to immunize 3,000 people a day.

“We are looking forward to having these sites operational before vaccine supply ramps up in our area,” he said.

In order to secure a space for a vaccine, the province will be launching an appointment system in March to book vaccines online or by phone.

“Currently, this appointment booking system is not available, and there is no waiting list for appointments. We will inform residents in the KFL&A region when Ontario launches their appointment booking system, please do not contact any of the clinic sites, your health care provider, or KFL&A Public Health for information on booking COVID-19 vaccinations,” the health unit said.

For now, immunizations will continue to be delivered as they have been, through hospital-based clinics run by Kingston Health Sciences Centre and mobile clinics at long-term care and high-risk retirement homes.

“As vaccine supply increases (dependent on the province’s allocation of vaccine), the type of clinic, as well as clinic coordination, will shift to ensure efficient and sustained vaccination across the region,” the health unit said in a statement.

As of now, the health unit says various health authorities are focusing on getting all “phase one” residents their first-dose shots.

Immediate priority residents for Phase 1 include residents, staff and essential caregivers of long-term care, high-risk retirement homes and First Nations elder care homes, those waiting to be placed in long-term care, high priority health-care workers and Indigenous adults in remote or high-risk communities.

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The next targeted populations include adults 80 years of age and older, residents, staff and caregivers in retirement homes and other congregate care settings for seniors, health-care workers in the high-priority settings, adults in First Nations, Metis and Inuit population and adult chronic home-care recipients.

The health unit says additional on-site vaccine clinics for these target groups in rural communities will be co-ordinated by Kingston Community Health Centre and Family Health Teams in Addington Highlands, and North and Central Frontenac.

Vaccines will also be available through primary care doctors and pharmacies once refrigerator-stable vaccines are available.

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