We are writing to provide you with an update from our united Primary Care COVID-19 Vaccination Collaborative (PC-VAC*). This past week’s key messages that we shared with vaccine decision-makers can be found here.
The Collaborative has been working closely together and is meeting regularly with representatives from the Provincial Vaccine Task Force, public health, home care, hospitals, and other stakeholders. The provincial vaccine strategy is continuously evolving, and despite the close collaboration, we are often not privy to government decisions prior to their announcement. We are committed, however, to providing you with the most up to date information that is available to us and advocating on behalf of our colleagues and the patients that we serve.
Even as information is uncertain there are four things that primary care can do: educate, communicate, collaborate, and vaccinate:
- Educate: we have built trusting therapeutic relationships with our patients and can help answer questions about vaccine hesitancy and consent
- Communicate: we have rosters of patients and can reach out easily through EMR, secure email, websites as well as our office voicemail messaging.
- Collaborate: we have long standing relationships with public health and can be a huge help in supporting their vaccine rollout plans. Please consult your PHU’s vaccination plan for how you can best support your 80+ and other priority clients to be vaccinated. You can also reach out to the primary care liaisons for your local PHU.
- Vaccinate: it’s at the core of what primary care providers do. Prevention is our specialty. The rollout will be faster with us helping out as part of mass vaccination clinics, mobile teams and in our own offices.
Learnings From Primary Care: Vaccine Roll-Out Across Ontario Webinar
On Friday, February 26, we heard from four AFHTO teams who have stepped up to provide leadership for vaccine distribution in their communities. They spoke to work that is underway, offered guidance and advice, spoke to challenges faced and how they are resolving them, and answered questions.
Dr. Daniel Warshafsky, Senior Medical Consultant, Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, also joined the call to provide an update on vaccine roll-out and to take questions. You can access the slide deck and webinar on our site here.
- Health Canada has approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for immediate use. NACI recommendations and then Ontario-specific recommendations on who should or should not receive this vaccine are expected this week. See CEP’s website for updated information and resources on vaccines, including this new addition.
- The Association Municipality of Ontario (AMO) has put together a spreadsheet with all the PHU plans that have been made public.
- Read an interview by Dr. Kieran Moore, KFLAPH Medical Officer of Health, on the COVID vaccine rollout in Ontario and the importance of primary care in the vaccination efforts.
- Update on COVID-19 Projections from the Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Table - February 25, 2021.
- Updated Ministry Guidance Document on COVID-19 Variant of Concern: Case, Contact and Outbreak Management Interim Guidance
OntarioMD is working on sending the vaccine report through HRM (source: MOH COVAX app) and the target is to have this live by the end of April. No additional information at this point as they are in the early design stage. They will have communications and an FAQ ready once they know more.
The Ministry of Health is working to procure oxygen saturation monitors for use by primary care professionals wishing to provide enhanced monitoring of their COVID+ patients. These devices can be requested via provincial stockpile, similar to how you request PPE, and more details on ordering will soon be available.
Please reach out to your regional digital leads to learn more about existing remote monitoring programs in your region and how you can assist or leverage these programs for your patients. In the meantime, Ontario Health will be hosting a webinar on March 4th from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. on COVID@Home Monitoring for Primary Care: Clinical Pathways and Resources so please register for more information.
Ontario Community Support Program
Since the start of the pandemic, the Ontario Community Support Program (OCSP), funded by the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility, has provided funds to help vulnerable clients stay home safely.
This ongoing program helps low-income, isolated seniors and people with physical disabilities get the meals, groceries, medications, and other essentials they need to stay at home safely during COVID-19. This week, the Government extended the program to March 2022, creating more security for people in need. Please help raise awareness of these services so people can continue to isolate safely.
Below is a short message you can share with your patients, families, and caregivers:
COVID-19 Support Available for Isolated Seniors and People with Physical Disabilities
Do you know an isolated, low-income senior or person living with a physical disability, without family or community support, who needs help getting essentials during the current COVID-19 pandemic?
The Ontario Community Support program helps those in need get meals, groceries, medicine, and other essentials delivered through Meals on Wheels so that they can safely isolate at home. Service is available through March 2022.
To identify a local community provider and request service, visit www.ontariocommunitysupport.ca or dial 211 or 1-877-330-3213 (toll free). TTY service is also available at 1-888-340-1001.
- University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine and the Ontario College of Family Physicians has released four e-modules for primary care professionals: why we need the vaccine, the safety and efficacy of mRNA vaccines, plans for vaccine rollout and how to build vaccine confidence among patients. Updated modules on the viral vector vaccines are coming soon.
- COVID Learning Series: free 5-part self-paced learning series through CFPC Learn
- Covid19 Vaccine Facts: Instagram account by Dr. Amanda Adams, Department of Family Medicine, Markham Stouffville Hospital, with answers by Canadian doctors to combat vaccine hesitancy.
- 'Onions Don't Cure COVID-19': University of Guelph students combatting COVID-19 misinformation through videos and infographics.
We look forward to continually updating you on the provincial vaccination strategy. Please do not hesitate to contact us 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