SLFNHA Public Health Physician emphasizes importance of deciding to get COVID-19 vaccine
Tim Brody - Editor
Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) Public Health Physician Dr. John Guilfoyle is encouraging eligible residents of the 33 communities SLFNHA serves to make the decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they have the opportunity to do so.
SLFNHA reported 10 new positive COVID-19 cases last week as of the evening of Jan. 30 in communities they serve: four in Webequie, three in Pikangikum, one case in Poplar Hill, one case in Lac Seul and one case in an external worker who had left Nibinamik.
In a Jan. 30 video update, announcing the third case in Pikangikum, Guilfoyle said, “In all the other communities, Poplar Hill, Frenchman’s Head, Webequie and Nibinamik, everything is going fine. No new cases and everybody is isolating and doing well.”
Guilfoyle said of the third positive Pikangikum case, that the individual is doing well and is isolating in the community.
“The investigation is going forward and all the swabs that have been done to date, other than that one, are all negative,” he said of swabs taken in Pikangikum last week.
“What this does tell us is that this virus is getting closer to our communities and that the public health measures, keeping to your social bubble and distancing is important. Washing your hands – awfully important. Protecting others when you cough or sneeze - awfully important, and using masks when you can’t keep the distance,” Guilfoyle shared.
In a Jan. 29 video update Guilfoyle stated, “We have to be extremely careful. No non-essential travel.”
“This is really a wake-up call that the virus is close to our communities,” he said.
“Our best protection now is the next step, which is to get vaccinated, because we do know this vaccine will protect you. It is a lot safer and better to get the vaccine than it is to get the virus. Number two, it will protect your loved ones and the vulnerable ones in your household because if you are eligible for the vaccine and you’re healthy, you are actually protecting those around you. Obviously if you’re unwell or have an underlying condition, you are a very good candidate as well because getting the vaccine is a lot safer than getting the virus naturally. The last thing it will do is it will slow the virus down,” Guilfoyle said in his Jan. 30 video update.
In his Jan. 29 video update, Guilfoyle shared that, “Next week, we are going to be having this vaccine rolled out in some of our communities… for those of you who have any questions, please, we have our website at SLFNHA (https://www.slfnha.com), contact your pandemic team, call your nursing station, if you are meeting with your doctor or health care person in the meantime, have a talk, get your questions answered, because it’s a really important decision for you to make for yourself and your loved ones.”
ORNGE, tasked with transporting COVID-19 vaccines and vaccinating remote First Nations communities in Northern Ontario, shared on social media on Jan. 31 that final preparations were underway in Operation Remote Immunity hub cities Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay and Timmins.
“Beginning tomorrow (Feb. 1), six teams of six will depart for community vaccination clinics in Neskantaga, Slate Falls, Muskrat Dam Lake, Fort Severn & Kashechewan First Nations,” ORNGE informed.