South Okanagan vaccine rollout focusing on long-term care homes, as McKinney Place outbreak is under official review

Review of COVID outbreak

COVID-19 vaccinations for the general public in the South Okanagan likely won't come until the fall, and in the meantime, doses are focused first and foremost on long-term care home residents to try and prevent another deadly outbreak like the one that devastated McKinney Place in Oliver.

Interior Health executive director of South Okanagan clinical operations Carl Meadows told the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen board Thursday that they are "cautiously optimistic" about COVID trends in the region.

"Our COVID numbers in the community are dropping, but we have obviously had some significant events," Meadows said, referring to care home outbreaks like McKinney Place, which claimed 17 lives.

"I can assure you, our teams are amazing, you're in very good hands in the South Okanagan."

Meadows said the vaccine rollout has a tiered structure, focusing on long-term or assisted living facilities, emergency and ICU workers and specific COVID-19 staff in medical facilities.

As vaccinations continue to be administered, Meadows has requested a formal review of the situation at McKinney, to see what lessons can be learned.

"There’s going to be more awareness about these four-bed long term care units and how to do something about it in the future," he explained, referring to the fact that isolating residents who tested positive was difficult due to the outdated structure of the living facility.

Meadows said vaccination rollout will start ramping up in the South Okanagan once the Pfizer vaccine becomes more readily available and the Moderna vaccine arrives, but it will be a while before the average person in the region can get their shots.

“The general public, it’s probably going to be fall that the general public gets vaccinations," he said.

In the meantime, Meadows said the IH team is working hard.

"Our teams are nothing short of amazing."

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