COVID-19, Pelee Island

Over the Lake: Remote COVID Vaccination Clinic Returns to Pelee

When most people in Southwestern Ontario think of a remote or isolated community, they think of Northern Ontario. Pelee Island is the most southern community in Canada and also happens to be isolated, without year-round road or marine access.

While it is specifically the isolation many people seek, the gaps in infrastructure and access to resources are not well understood by most people outside of Northern Ontario. This presents uncommon challenges for Pelee Island’s new residents, visitors, regional decision makers.

In March of 2020, when the whole world stood still preparing to retreat into their homes in the face of an unknown virus, Pelee Islanders were up to the challenge of self-isolation. and then some. Islanders were used to adapting to extreme circumstances and COVID-19 was just the latest contributing factor to isolation on Pelee Island.

With not one recorded case of COVID-19 on the island to date, the community has done their part. Residents knew that without a hospital, doctor or pharmacy on the island, an outbreak could be even more deadly among the mostly senior population.

Pelee Island’s healthcare is a patchwork of services from Essex-Windsor Emergency Medical Services (EMS) who are on the island 365 days a year, and the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) who established a clinic in 2012 to provide primary care services and assist EMS with enhanced emergency care. Pelee Island relies on Ornge life flights for critical care emergency assistance year-round.

Ornge led a remote vaccine clinic on Pelee Island as it concluded its tour of 31 northern remote indigenous communities and Moosonee during Operation Remote Immunity. The Ornge crew, along with the WECHU and the Colchester Guardian Rescue Crew, with support from the Township of Pelee, executed the first vaccination clinic at the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion on April 19 and 20, 2021.

Island residents don’t find it odd at all that their vaccination clinic was in a winery. The Pelee Island Winery routinely lends its space and resources for community benefit.

President/Vintner of Pelee Island Winery Walter Schmoranz says for his part he is just happy to help.

“Pelee Island is where we operate the agricultural side of business, alongside hosting a winery pavilion. However, first and foremost, Pelee Island has been our community for over 40 years. The people having vaccines made available to them through this clinic are the same ones we share decades of stories with. We’re honoured to be a small part of this chapter supporting our friends and our health care heroes in preventing the further spread of COVID-19.”

The second COVID-19 remote vaccination clinic takes place on Pelee Island for eligible residents on July 26, 2021. Deputy Mayor Dave Dawson extends appreciation for the joint efforts of community partners.

“Pelee Island is in a unique situation being isolated and we’re fortunate to have our community partners Ornge, Colchester Guardian, The Windsor Essex County Health Unit and Pelee Island Winery come together to deliver this crucial service to our residents.”

For more information follow @TownofPelee

Photo of shoreline: Cathy Miller
Photo of Ornge flight: Dave Dawson


Cathy + Kevin Miller
The Wandering Dog Inn

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