Lincoln’s Kirkopoulos appointed to Niagara Region’s vaccination task force

Mike Kirkopoulos Lincoln CAO Mike Kirkopoulos has been appointed to the Niagara Regions vaccine task force. Photo credit: Town of Lincoln/BigStock

Lincoln’s Chief Administrative Officer Mike Kirkopoulos has been appointed to the Niagara Region’s vaccine task force.

Kirkopoulos is the only town official from West Niagara municipalities appointed to the 20-person team, which is called the Community Coordination Task Force for COVID-19 Vaccination.

“I am pleased to lead the charge for West Niagara as the only representative from our area on the taskforce. I am honoured and humbled to be part of such a distinguished group of individuals,” Kirkopoulos told The Bench News.

“COVID-19 has negatively affected many families across Niagara and my heart goes out to those that have lost loved ones,” he added.

The task force has been mandated to develop a vaccination strategy to ensure that vaccines are delivered as quickly as possible starting with people most vulnerable. Vaccinations started in Lincoln and Grimsby this week at retirement and long term care homes.

“While I know there have been delays in the vaccine coming to Niagara, I am confident that the supply chain will be worked out and we’ll be getting people vaccinated as quickly as we can,” he said.  

With a population of over 500,000 people in the Niagara region, “this will be no small feat as we want a consistent, coordinated and transparent policy.”

He said: “We also want to ensure we communicate the efficacy and safety of vaccines. Ensuring a high vaccination rate and building public trust is a key cornerstone of what we have been mandated with.”

Transparency is key, he said to ensure there is confidence in the task force’s work.

The task force’s mission is to ensure a smooth rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations in Niagara communities and to communicate the plans and approaches to the communities it serves. It will also liaise on vaccine issues with the school boards and other community organizations

  • Ensure a consistent and coordinated approach between all partners in the strategic delivery of vaccinations 
  • Localize the provincial vaccination strategy into the Niagara specific context
  • Ensure high vaccination rates by building public trust through clear, accurate and culturally-informed communication on the vaccine and its safety
  • Provide reports and updates to the community, the Board of Health (Regional Council) and local municipal councils on Niagara’s vaccination activities, progress and milestones

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley also said Dr. Robin Williams, former Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario and former Niagara Medical Officer of Health, will act as a special advisor to the task force. 

Additionally, the task force will draw on the expertise of professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds. Here is the full list of appointed task force personnel: 

  • Dr. David Dec, Task force Chair
  • Regional Chair, Jim Bradley
  • Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Acting Medical Officer of Health, Niagara Region
  • Lynn Guerriero, President & Interim CEO, Niagara Health
  • Chief Bryan MacCulloch, Niagara Regional Police Service
  • Chief Kevin Smith, Niagara Emergency Medical Services
  • Shelley Chemnitz, CAO, St. Catharines
  • Ron Tripp, Acting CAO, Niagara Region
  • Mike Kirkopoulos, CAO, Town of Lincoln
  • Tom Kuchyt, CAO, Town of Fort Erie
  • Adrienne Jugley, Commissioner, Community Services, Niagara Region
  • Dr. Karl Stobbe, Medical Director, REACH Niagara
  • Frank Ruberto, Executive Director, Niagara Medical Group Family Health Team
  • Martha Mason, Executive Director, Fort Erie Multicultural Centre
  • Brian Davies, Chief Executive Officer, Bethesda
  • Nancy Garner, Executive Director, Quest Community Health Centre
  • Martina Rosza, Vice President, Home and Community Care, HNHB LHIN
  • Sean Simpson, President, Pharmacists Association of Niagara
  • Lucie Huot, Executive Director, CERF Niagara
  • Jennifer Dockstader, Executive Director, Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre (IHN)
  • Kathleen LaForme, Diabetes Wellness Coordinator, Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle (IHN)

The task force expects to hold its first meeting on the week of Jan. 25. The group is expected to remain active until Dec. 31, 2021.