Vaccinations begin at Scarborough long-term care home battling deadly COVID-19


TORONTO -- Staff and residents at Tendercare Living Centre began receiving COVID-19 vaccinations Sunday, hoping to stem to the outbreak at the hard-hit long-term care home.

Seventy-three people have died from contracting the virus at the Scarborough facility, which has suffered the highest COVID-19 fatality rate of all Ontario long-term care homes. As of Sunday there were 20 active resident cases at Tendercare; 91 resident cases were considered resolved.

“I’m happy I’m going to get my vaccine today,” personal support worker Nina Barcon told CTV News Toronto on her way into the centre. Barcon was scheduled to return to work Monday after recovering from COVID-19.

North York General Hospital, which has temporarily taken over management of Tendercare, reported Sunday that there were 80 resolved staff cases. Forty-three of those staff members have already returned to work.

The Scarborough Health Network administered 215 vaccinations at the centre Sunday, to 102 residents and 113 staff.

In response to questions about why Tendercare did not begin administering the vaccines as early as some other GTA long-term care homes, even when it had the highest resident fatality rate, a spokesperson for North York General Hospital said that Tendercare residents were among the first to be vaccinated through Scarborough Health Network.

The rollout came as a relief to many families Sunday; Judy and Dennis Yuen, who went to the centre to wave to Dennis’ mother through the window, were grateful that she was scheduled to receive the vaccine.

The 93-year-old had tested positive for COVID-19 over Christmas, they said, but had since been cleared.

“At least she’s not bed-ridden,” Judy Yuen said. “She gets to look out and wave at us.”

“It’s really tough for my mom. And for us too,” Dennis Yuen said.

Meanwhile Dr. Samir Sinha, Director of Geriatrics of the Sinai Health System and University Health Network, criticized the province-wide rollout, given that the majority of COVID-19 deaths have occurred in long-term care homes.

“Frankly, if we’re really, truly following an ethical framework and we’re following the evidence, we would make sure that these people were getting heir vaccines first and foremost, before anybody else,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health confirmed Sunday that all residents, health care workers, and essential caregivers at long-term care homes in the province’s priority regions—Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex—will receive a COVID-19 vaccination by January 21.