Province continues to expand booking eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines
Tim Brody - Editor
The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) is reporting over 31,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been given in our area. “This is an impressive number and we expect it will begin to rise quickly over the month of May as more populations become eligible,” NWHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kit Young Hoon informed regional media on May 7.
“In the beginning of the vaccine rollout we were primarily getting Moderna in our catchment area so that was being rolled out through all our vaccine clinics and other partner agencies’ vaccine clinics. The Moderna supply to the province has become more unstable and in order to ensure that we had enough vaccine, the province started supplying us with Pfizer,” Dr. Young Hoon said, adding, “At this point most of our vaccine distribution will be with the Pfizer vaccine.”
The provincial government announced on Monday that as of Tuesday, May 11, individuals with at-risk health conditions such as dementia, diabetes and sickle cell disease, as well as Group Two of people who cannot work from home including grocery store, restaurant and transportation workers will be eligible to book an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
In addition, effective Thursday, May 13, individuals turning 40 and over in 2021 in non-hot spot communities will also be eligible to book an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at a mass immunization clinic.
“In addition, due to increased vaccine supply the province is adding high-risk health care workers, dialysis patients, and all First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals to the list of those eligible to book their appointment to receive a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine earlier than the extended four-month interval. These groups face a greater risk of contracting and suffering serious illness from COVID-19. Eligibility for booking will begin by the end of the week of May 10, 2021 and booking details will be provided in the coming days,” the provincial government informed.
Eligible individuals can schedule an appointment through the provincial booking system at www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine or by calling or by calling 1-833-943-3900.
“More information on each population and expected dates that others will become eligible can be found on our booking web page (https://www.nwhu.on.ca/covid19/Pages/booking-COVID19-vaccine-appointment.aspx),” Dr. Young Hoon shared.
According to the provincial government, “As of May 9, 2021, at 8:00 p.m., over 6.2 million vaccine doses have been administered across the province, with over 92 per cent of Ontario residents aged 80 and over and 91 per cent of residents aged 75 to 79 having received at least one dose. More than 48 per cent of the population aged 18 and over have received at least one dose and over 393,000 Ontarians are fully immunized, including 95 per cent of long-term care residents.”
The provincial government also shared that, “the province is on track to have administered first doses to 65 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over by the end of May.”
Locally, Dr. Young Hoon told regional media on May 7 that, “It is concerning that we continue to see a high number of new cases each week despite being in a stay-at-home order. Following public health measures and not looking for ways to bend, break or ignore the law is critical to be able to reopen. Keeping numbers down means less chance the virus can mutate and give the vaccines a chance to work. The consequences of not doing so have very real impacts - impacts that go beyond being charged. The reality of people choosing to violate the law and ignore public health measures will prolong the shutdown and continue to increase cases and illnesses in our area. These decisions can jeopardize people’s lives and livelihoods and they put our local healthcare system at risk.”
As of May 10, NWHU was reporting 51 active COVID-19 cases in its catchment area, a decrease from the 75 active COVID-19 cases it reported in its catchment area as of May 3.