January 8, 2020
Older adults, especially in congregate care settings, are high risk for complications from COVID-19 – including death. Across Ontario (as of Jan 9, 2020), 16% of long-term care residents have been infected with COVID-19 (cumulative) compared with 1% in the overall Ontario population and 4% of residents have died from COVID-19, compared 0.03% of all Ontario residents. To support efforts to reduce the impact on older adults, the province’s Specialized Geriatric Services, expert clinical services dedicated to older adults living with complex health concerns, are aiding the uptake of COVID-19 vaccine among older Ontarians by:
- Identifying the capacity across the over 400 clinical programs to support the efforts of public health, primary care and acute care in vaccine administration, and reaching out to lend a hand where feasible
- Helping to identify clinical and community settings where individuals may be at greater risk for COVID-19 infection and advocating for their prioritization in vaccination planning and distribution
- Standing by to communicate with their community-dwelling patient population about vaccination opportunities, as the population served by specialized geriatric services includes older adults with multiple complex health concerns who are at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19
- Developing and disseminating expert information about vaccine safety, to reduce concerns and hesitancy about taking the vaccine among individuals, families and even health care workers.
Dr. Kevin Young, PGLO Co-Medical Director (Geriatric Medicine) and Physician Lead, North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services, notes “the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh the risks”. He also encouraged both the public and health professionals to get vaccinated at their earliest opportunity. While there have been some reports of hesitancy among health care providers, Dr. Young was emphatic, noting “for the benefit of the vulnerable patients we serve we should all very seriously consider being vaccinated”.
Also see “Vaccine Myth Busting Resources for Clinicians” in our related resources.