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Media Release: Board of Health Update – March 2021

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/March 3, 2021

Today, the Hastings Prince Edward board of Health held its regular meeting for March 2021. The meeting was conducted by teleconference as part of Hastings Prince Edward Public Health’s (HPEPH) COVID-19 safety measures.

Variants of Concern identified in Hastings Prince Edward

Two separate cases of COVID-19 in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties have screened as positive for a variant of the virus. The variants were sent to Public Health Ontario’s provincial lab for genomic sequencing to identify the specific variant, but the lab was unable to complete the sequencing for the first case and sequencing is pending for the second, Dr. Ethan Toumishey, Medical Resident, told the Board this morning.

The individuals who screened positive for a variant isolated throughout their contagious period and the risk to the community is low. However, the identification of COVID-19 variants of concern (VOC) in our region serves as a somber reminder that we are not immune to the spread of the virus and variants.

While it is normal for viruses to change and evolve over time, Dr. Toumishey explained that COVID-19 VOCs may be more contagious, be able to spread more quickly, infect more people, and could potentially cause more severe illness[i]. As COVID-19 VOCs are still new, evidence continues to emerge about their potential risks.

“As certain variants have been identified as being significantly more contagious than the original strain, ongoing adherence to public health measures is essential to keep one another safe until vaccines are available to all,” said Dr. Toumishey. “Each of us must continue to do our part to prevent the spread of all strains of COVID-19 and avoid more restrictive public health precautions in our region.”

Cases of COVID-19 variants in HPEPH are being continuously monitored and beginning March 4, 2021 they will be reported on the HPEPH COVID-19 Dashboard.

COVID-19 Immunization Planning and Vaccine Roll Out

HPEPH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Roll Out Plan is well underway for individuals in the Phase 1 priority groups. By March 12, HPEPH will have administered more than 4000 vaccines, including second doses for allresidents in local long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes and the Tyendinaga Elders Lodge.

Dr. Oglaza thanked the community for their continued vigilance as the vaccines are distributed to the highest and high priority groups and noted that and It will take time for COVID-19 vaccines to be distributed to everyone in the community.

HPEPH posts a weekly vaccine update to the website and also provides updates on the vaccine roll out and eligible groups through social media, local media, and health care and community partners.

HPEPH Piloting Provincial Vaccine Booking System

HPEPH, along with five other public health units, is piloting Ontario’s Vaccine Booking System by offering an invitation to book vaccination appointments to a small group of eligible individuals.

The pilot, which began on March 1 and continues for two weeks, has an aim to test and refine components of the Provincial Vaccine Booking System to help ensure success when it is launched province-wide on March 15. HPEPH’s participation in the pilot not only benefits the provincial launch, but also gives public health the opportunity to refine internal processes before it becomes widely available.

Dr. Oglaza reminded the board that the pilot is only for a small group of eligible individuals who have been contacted directly by HPEPH.



Media Contacts:

Maureen Hyland

Emily Tubbs

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Individuals turning 12 and over in 2021 who have not yet had a first dose, or those who meet the minimum second dose interval are now eligible to attend HPEPH walk-in clinics. To view the schedule, visit the Booking and Eligibility Page.

If you attended a clinic and did not receive an email copy of your vaccination receipt you can download a copy off the provincial booking site at


Individuals turning 12 and over in 2021 can also receive their vaccination at participating local pharmacies. Please visit for location and registration information.


On Friday, July 16 at 12:01 a.m., Ontario moved to Step 3  of the the Roadmap to Reopen. We must all continue to follow the public health measures, advice and restrictions. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people in Step 3, and distancing must be maintained. For more information, visit our COVID-19 page.


If you are concerned about potential exposure to a positive case of COVID-19, please be reassured that any contacts of a confirmed case will be contacted directly and monitored by public health.

Low-risk and indirect contacts should self monitor for symptoms for 10 days from the time of potential exposure and seek testing if symptoms develop. Low risk contacts do not need to isolate unless symptoms develop, and can continue to attend school/work/daycare while monitoring for symptoms.