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Media Release: Board of Health Update – May 2022

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/ May 5, 2022

The Hastings Prince Edward Board of Health (BOH) met yesterday. The meeting was conducted in person at the office in Belleville.

MOH provides guidance on learning to live safely with COVID-19

Dr. Ethan Toumishey, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) Medical Officer of Health and CEO, thanked the community for their continuing diligence in the face of the ongoing pandemic. He also expressed his gratitude to community and health care partners for their invaluable support which has been instrumental in ensuring the successful delivery of vaccines in the community.

He reminded residents that while many provincial restrictions have been lifted, the pandemic is ongoing and as we start to resume many normal activities, there is continued risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19.

“Learning to live safely with COVID-19 does not mean ignoring the risks of the virus. I am asking residents to be cautious and make responsible choices in the coming weeks, recognizing that many people remain at higher risk of complications from COVID-19,” said Dr. Toumishey.

He outlined the practical steps residents can take to protect themselves and those around them, including:

  • Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations, including fourth doses for individuals 60+ and other eligible groups
  • Staying home when sick – even if symptoms are very mild
  • If you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive or has symptoms you are required to take extra precautions; these include:
    • Isolating, if required. Learn more at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/exposed
    • Wearing a mask for a minimum of 10 days after your exposure to the symptomatic/positive person – even if isolation is not required
    • Monitoring closely for symptoms of COVID-19 and isolating immediately if symptoms develop
  • Wearing a well-fitted three-layer mask or using a medical mask in public indoor settings is strongly recommended when physical distancing can not be maintained, out of respect for those who remain at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.

COVID-19 immunization program recognized
Bill Sherlock, Program Manager of Clinical Services, provided an update on the COVID-19 immunization program, recapping the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine thus far, and acknowledged that the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered to the highest risk local residents in January 2021. Since that time, great strides have been made with vaccine administration in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties (HPEC), with 87% of residents aged 12 and older having received two doses of vaccine.

He commended the HPEPH staff who continue to administer the COVID-19 vaccines and thanked community and health care partners who have played a crucial role in the successful vaccine rollout in HPEC.

COVID-19 vaccination opportunities continue to be available throughout the region. For more information about booking an appointment visit hpepublichealth.ca/vaccine-booking for clinic dates and times.

Work also continues to administer other essential vaccinations. While COVID-19 restrictions have delayed delivery of regular school vaccination clinics, catch up clinics are now being offered in schools for all eligible students. HPEPH is also offering weekly catch up clinics for routine immunization for children, youth and adults every Tuesday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the HPEPH office at 179 North Park St. in Belleville. Appointments can be booked at canadaehs.com/hpepublichealth

Healthy Schools Program update
Bill Sherlock, Manager of Clinical Services and Sheryl Farrar, Manager of Healthy Communities provided an update on the Healthy Schools Program, which was implemented in Fall 2020. The program, which was developed with input from local educators and administrators, is designed to work with key decision-makers such as municipalities, health care professionals, educators, parents and students to improve the health and well-being of school-aged children in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties.

The HPEPH Healthy Schools team is a multi-disciplinary team comprised of health promoters, public health nurses, a registered dietitian and a public health inspector who have been assigned to families of schools across the jurisdiction. They provide:

  • Clinical services, such as immunizations, sexual health clinics, tobacco and vaping cessation, mental health, vision screening and oral health screenings provided directly within schools
  • Health promotion resource guides which use a whole school approach to address health topics in the classroom, school and community
  • Newsletter inserts, social media messaging and roll-up banners to bring awareness to the school community regarding relevant health topics
  • Educator resource kits designed to support educators in teaching the health-related curriculum in a fun and interactive way
  • Supports to create healthy schools in partnership with students, school staff, families and community partners  

Over the past two years, many activities have been in response to the pandemic, including:

  • COVID-19 case and contact management
  • Infection prevention and control including:
    • staff personal protective equipment and student masking
    • cohorting and physical distancing
    • hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette training
    • environmental cleaning consultation
  • School-based COVID-19 vaccination
  • Public health clinics in secondary schools

Since January 2022, the Healthy Schools team has also provided COVID-19 support to all licensed childcare facilities in HPEC.

Plans for supporting the recovery of children from the effects of the pandemic are underway.

Additional information about the Healthy Schools Program is available at https://www.hpepublichealth.ca/healthy-schools/ and in the Healthy Schools Annual Report 2020/2021.

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Media Contacts:

Maureen Hyland, Communications Specialist
mhyland@hpeph.ca

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist
etubbs@hpeph.ca

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. HPEPH is situated and provides services on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee people. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit hpePublicHealth.ca. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

We invite community partners and residents to share this Media Release with their respective networks.

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COVID-19 VACCINES IN HPEPH

All individuals ≥ 5 yrs of age are eligible to receive a fall COVID-19 booster dose 6 mo after previous COVID-19 vaccine. Bivalent booster doses are available to individuals aged 12 and over.

Appointments can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  

COVID-19 PROTOCOLS

For the most up to date information on current provincial guidelines and advice in case of exposure, visit Ontario.ca/page/public-health-measures-and-advice.

The Ministry of Health has launched a new toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.