By Mike Baker
With a new COVID-19 vaccination clinic set to open at A.J. LaRue Arena next week, the Rotary Club of Haliburton is looking for volunteers to help ensure the day-long sessions operate smoothly and efficiently.
Beginning next Monday, April 12 the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit [HKPRDHU] will run clinics three times per week in Haliburton – on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays. These clinics have been scheduled until mid-June and will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
While the on-site medical staff will be provided and scheduled by public health, there is still a “great need” for community volunteers to assist with tasks such as screening patients, escorting patients to their seats, cleaning and dismissing people after they have been given their vaccination.
Rotarians Ursula Devolin and Brian Nash are co-chairing this effort. Speaking to the Echo last week, Devolin said there are currently 24 clinic days scheduled in Haliburton, with each day requiring 24 volunteers to fill the different roles that have been outlined by public health.
Since launching an online sign-up sheet just prior to the long weekend, Devolin said the response has been “phenomenal.”
“In less than 48 hours, we were pretty much 100 per cent full volunteer-wise for the first week of clinics, with a few more people listing themselves as on-call” Devolin said. “I think this says a lot about the community spirit here. People want this done. I think what we’re seeing is people are really anxious to ensure people in our community are vaccinated.”
In organizing the schedule, Devolin has created shift timetables, with volunteers able to sign up for specific roles for either the morning or afternoon. Each shift lasts for between four and four-and-a-half hours, Devolin said.
Right now, she is only scheduling up until April 25 at the request of the local health unit.
“They had asked me specifically not to put out all of the dates. They said they can’t guarantee vaccine doses. The health unit is only getting information every two weeks on how many doses they’re going to get,” Devolin said.
While it’s unclear exactly how many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been set aside for the clinic in Haliburton, the province reported last week that it had given nearly 27,000 Pfizer and 4,800 Moderna vaccines to HKPRDHU to date. The health unit will receive an additional 11,700 Pfizer and 5,900 Moderna doses this week.
While Rotary has taken the lead on this initiative, Devolin said it has been a real community effort thus far.
“We’re up to 80 different contacts already – that’s including members of the Rotary club, plus the general community and then a collection of [Haliburton & District] Lions club members. The Lions have been really proactive in helping with this process – they’re really stepping up,” Devolin said. “This is absolutely a community effort. Rotary doesn’t have enough members to do this by ourselves.”
Anyone aged 16 and above can register as a volunteer. Anyone wishing to serve as a volunteer must also sign a confidentiality agreement.
With the provincial government last week extending COVID-19 vaccination booking to more age groups, individuals aged 70 and over in Haliburton County now qualify to receive their shot. It’s important to note that the clinic at A.J. LaRue Arena is by appointment only.
“People still need to book appointments through the health unit – they can do that [by phone or online]. I cannot stress enough that we are not booking appointments for people,” Devolin said. “If you turn up and you don’t have an appointment, you won’t be allowed in.”
To book an appointment, call 1-888-999-6488 or visit covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/.
To register as a volunteer, contact Ursula Devolin at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 705-455-2037.