COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout in Windsor and Essex County
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) was mandated to lead the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Windsor-Essex County (WEC). The projected population of eligible individuals for vaccination in WEC in 2021 is 438,001. In order to achieve a 75% threshold coverage rate, approximately 328,501 individuals must be immunized. Based on the two-dose vaccine requirement to complete the COVID-19 vaccine series, this equates to 657,002 doses that will need to be administered. In January of 2021, the WECHU developed a three-stage plan to support the provincial rollout of COVID-19 vaccine in our community.
In April 2021, the provincial government identified seven postal codes in WEC as COVID-19 "hot spots" that were prioritized for phase 2 of Ontario's Vaccine Distribution Plan. Hot spots are categorized as having historic and ongoing high rates of death, hospitalization and transmission of the COVID-19 disease.
In WEC, the identified areas include:
- N8X – South Central Windsor
- N8Y – Walkerville and East Windsor area
- N9A – Downtown Windsor
- N9B – Sandwich Towne and University of Windsor area
- N9C – Sandwich Towne
- N8H – Leamington area
- N9Y – Kingsville area
As of June 4, 2021, 253,255 (71.7%) WEC adults 18 years or older received at least 1 dose of a vaccine.
Mass Immunization Clinics
In order to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to a larger proportion of individuals quickly there are 6 mass vaccination clinics supported full time across WEC, three of which are located in “hot spot” postal code areas. These sites are being supported by our municipal partners in both the City and County. In addition, Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) continues to operate 2 sites. Daily client volumes range between 400 – 1000 and collectively 202,922 individuals have been immunized at one of the 6 clinics (184,767 with first doses, 18,155 with second doses). The mass immunization clinic model was the primary method to support the vaccination of approximately 6,000 temporary foreign workers (TFW) in April and early May and is currently the primary support for youth vaccinations (12-17 years old).
Pop Up Clinics
Pop up vaccination clinics are defined as clinics in the community that target a specific location with the objective of reducing barriers to access, with a time limited operational period. The WECHU has supported 9 single day pop up clinics in various WEC locations targeting specific hot spot communities and high risk populations, youth, and the urban Indigenous community. Pop up clinics have ranged between 400 and 800 individuals in a single day.
Mobile Strategy – Mobile Teams and Delivery
Mobile teams and delivery strategies operate with the objective of reaching a specific targeted priority population, usually in one day, with lists of individuals identified beforehand. WECHU staff, and partner groups including the CRST team, travel to pre-existing sites (some without pre-existing infrastructure) to provide vaccine to designated target populations. The WECHU began leading the first mobile strategy on January 1, 2021 targeting Long Term Care Homes (19) followed by registered Retirement Homes (24). All of these facilities have received both first and second doses for the majority of interested/eligible staff and residents. Maintenance plans to vaccinate new residents and staff on an ongoing basis are being implemented.
Additional mobile strategies have supported 24 locations, primarily high-risk congregate living facilities including:
- The Southwest Detention Centre
- Assisted living facilities
- Private retirement homes
- Lodging and boarding homes
- Supportive housing for at risk populations
- Community Living Windsor and Community Living Essex County locations
In addition, with coordination support from Home and Community Care Services, the WECHU has provided direct immunization support to approximately 200 registered homebound individuals. The WECHU has also provided support for non-registered homebound individuals through collaborations with primary care and the provision of direct client service (as required).
WEC was designated as a pilot site for the vaccine rollout of AstraZeneca and 47 pharmacies have collectively administered over 37 000 doses to WEC residents over the age of 40 years.
Currently, 65 pharmacies are providing Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines (first doses and second doses) throughout Windsor and Essex County (WEC); as well, 30 pharmacies are providing AstraZeneca 2nd doses throughout WEC. Local pharmacies are actively recruiting and vaccinating individuals aged 12 and older (for those with Pfizer-BioNTech allocations). For those with Moderna allocations, they are actively recruiting and vaccinating individuals 18 years and older. Pharmacies providing Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines are also providing second doses to those 70 years of age or older.
Pharmacies who participated in the early pilot project began administering second doses of AstraZeneca to individuals who received their first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine between March 10th and March 19th. As of June 3, 2021, 5,369 second doses of AstraZeneca have been administered to eligible individuals. The Ministry of Health will be providing 19,300 additional AstraZeneca doses to WEC pharmacies over the coming weeks.
Health Care Provider Rollout
Starting as an early adopter of the health care provider rollout model, the WECHU engaged 8 primary care partners and locations in a pilot project using the Moderna vaccine in March/April. The pilot project involved strategic partnerships with local Family Health Teams, the Windsor-Essex Community Health Centre (multiple locations), and Nurse Practitioner Led Clinics in WEC.
In addition to the pilot project participants, the WECHU has on-boarded 46 physicians’ offices to administer both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines (based on available supply) to rostered patients in their offices and/or to the general public through physician-led clinics. As of June 2, 2021, 14,611 vaccinations had occurred through a physician-led office or clinic – this represents the 6th highest amount in the Province of Ontario. The WECHU continues to onboard new health care providers to the COVID-19 vaccination rollout on a weekly basis.