Georgian College paramedic students to help administer COVID-19 vaccinations to Indigenous communities

An Ornge paramedic vaccinates an Indigenous elder in Mishkeegogamang during Operation Remote Immunity. A team from Georgian College will participate in the operation from March 22 to 26 (Photo courtesy of Ornge)

A team of six from Georgian’s paramedic programs are travelling to a fly-in Indigenous community in northern Ontario to administer COVID-19 vaccinations.
Georgian is the only college in Ontario to participate in Operation Remote Immunity, a vaccination program developed betweenNishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) and Ornge, the province’s provider of air ambulance and critical care transport services.
Two Georgian paramedic instructors and four students will travel to Eabametoong First Nation to administer second doses of the Moderna vaccine from March 22 to 26. Eabametoong is approximately 350 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.
Three of the students, from the Advanced Care Paramedic program and who are already primary care paramedics, will administer the vaccines. The fourth student, in the primary care Paramedic program, will cover administrative duties and observe. 
“First-hand experience with Indigenous peoples or Ontario’s remote communities will provide an opportunity for learning that cannot be replicated in the classroom,” said Jonathan Lee, a part-time instructor in Georgian’s paramedic programs and an Ornge critical care paramedic.
“Bringing the team from Georgian demonstrates the college’s support for new opportunities for students and graduates,” added Lee. “It also provides an opportunity to strengthen relationships with health-care partners, and it allows students to contribute in a meaningful way during the pandemic.”
Before arriving in Eabametoong, all team members will be fully vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19, as well as take cultural training.
“The training includes a look at the variations of Indigenous cultures, current and historical impacts of colonialism, and the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples,” Lee said.
Through Operation Remote Immunity, more than 15,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in 31 remote, fly-in Indigenous communities and Moosonee in the last seven weeks. The operation is on track to complete vaccinations by April 9.