We are writing to provide you with an update from our united Primary Care COVID-19 Vaccination Action Council (*PC-VAC). Each week, we advocate for a shared set of bottom-line messages to vaccine decision-makers. You can read the bottom lines for this week here.
We are also committed to sharing with you weekly news on the work underway, and have several key updates for this week:
1. Ontario has released a technical briefing with further details of its vaccination plan. The plan outlines priority populations in each phase, as well as anticipated vaccine delivery timelines.
- See the figure at the bottom of this email, which indicates that all primary care providers and their staff will be immunized in Phase 1, vaccine dependent.
2. Primary care is ready to support vaccine efforts, and each community is at different stages of deployment and primary care partnership.
- Thank you to the 3,000+ primary care professionals who raised their hands to support vaccine efforts during our recent call out for LTC. We continue to share these lists with the public health units.
- Ontario has a forthcoming Public Health Playbook for the COVID-19 Vaccination Program, which emphasizes early partnerships with primary care.
- In the meantime, we are working with provincial public health leaders to assess individual public health unit needs and emphasize the willingness of our primary care community to support vaccine efforts. We anticipate that each region will have different needs that you may have an opportunity to support in the months ahead. We will share successes and actively help to spread best practices across regions.
- We are also working with provincial public health leaders to develop a package for primary care that will include direction around consent, medical directives and other relevant resources and tools.
3. As we await broader vaccine rollout, there are ways we can make a difference.
- One of the most effective ways to promote vaccine confidence is advice from someone we trust, usually a person’s family physician, Nurse Practitioner, or primary care team.
- Use available resources to understand the science behind the vaccines and build skills in counseling patients on vaccine confidence.
- Proactively communicate with your patients on the vaccines: see sample letter from OCFP and short patient education videos from Dr. David Kaplan.
- If you are involved in vaccine distribution meetings, please share this checklist developed by the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council to ensure that your planning efforts are inclusive and meet the needs of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples living in your community.
4. We continue to advocate on your behalf to the Ministry of Health and other decision-makers.
- We are asking for regular, transparent communications from the Ministry of Health, Public Health, and the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force to the broader primary care community.
- The Ministry of Health released healthcare worker prioritization guidance on January 8th. We are now advocating for specific details regarding when and how our physicians and primary care providers will be immunized, which we expect to happen over the coming weeks.
- The Ministry of Health also released updated guidance on H-codes. To support the provincial vaccination strategy, the ministry is expanding the criteria used to designate COVID-19 Assessment Centres to include any sites where a Hospital or Public Health Unit (PHU) coordinates COVID-19 vaccination delivery. The Ministry will release an INFOBulletin on this update shortly.
- We also understand that the Ministry of Health is working on a provincial training rollout for COVAX, as well as EMR integration for future primary care vaccination settings.
- Note that the Ministry’s new Ontario matching portal for vaccination support is not intended for vaccinators.
- Finally, we are advocating for a multi-pronged approach, which includes the following elements:
- Mass vaccination hubs – offered in partnership with public health and hospitals and staffed by primary care and community health professionals.
- Mobile vaccination teams – to deploy to congregate settings, high rise apartments, homebound older adults, and other people who have challenges going to a vaccine hub.
- Community based, equity-focused vaccination efforts for communities that face barriers otherwise accessing vaccination clinics.
- Regular flu vaccine model — office-based, opportunistic vaccinations out of primary care practices and in collaboration with pharmacy partners.
5. To facilitate coordinated action in primary care, we are seeking to understand beliefs relating to the COVID-19 vaccine and what supports are needed for healthcare professionals in primary care. Please complete this new, very brief survey to help us better understand your perspectives and experience. Click here to access the survey.
As a friendly reminder, the Primary Care COVID-19 Vaccination Action Council (PC-VAC) is not a decision-making body. Rather, we are respectfully emphasizing to decision-makers that primary care must play a central role in current and future vaccination efforts.
Please let us know if you have any questions or ideas.
Yours in good health,
The AFHTO Team
*Ontario Primary Care COVID-19 Vaccination Action Council:
- Alliance for Healthier Communities
- Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario
- Indigenous Primary Health Care Council
- Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic Association/Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario
- Ontario College of Family Physicians
- Ontario Medical Association Section on General and Family Practice
- Ontario’s Academic Chairs of Family Medicine