A redirection of COVID-19 vaccinations as ordered by the province to coronavirus hotspots is expected cause havoc with upcoming vaccination clinics in the Quinte area next week.
Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is advising the province’s recent decision to redirect vaccines to areas in Ontario with elevated case loads will reduce anticipated local supply and may impact scheduled vaccine clinics.
Yesterday, Dr. Piotr Oglaza Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH informed municipal partners that recent changes in provincial strategy have reduced vaccine allocations to HPEPH by 25 per cent. HPEPH does not know how long the reduction in vaccine allocation will continue, but data from the Ministry of Health shows that it could be until mid May. The original provincial allocation commitment is required in order to maintain operations of scheduled vaccine clinics.
HPEPH is committed to working with community partners to reiterate the importance of a steady supply of vaccines to the region and is calling on the province to reverse this decision and maintain or increase anticipated allocations to the region.
“While we are not the only health unit suffering from a lack of vaccines, the change in provincial strategy will further delay vaccine rollout in our region and will increase pressure on our already strained local health care resources,” said Dr. Oglaza. “While we recognize the need for enhanced vaccination in hot spots, I am committed to avoiding further delays in vaccination for individuals in our region who are at risk of severe COVID-19 complications due to their age, chronic health conditions, or their role caring for individuals who are at high risk.”
If HPEPH is not successful in reversing the provincial decision to reduce vaccine allocation, some first dose appointments may be postponed. All local residents are advised that they will be contacted directly if their appointment is postponed. If they are not contacted, they can plan to attend their vaccination appointment as originally scheduled.
While public health clinics may be impacted, local pharmacies will continue to receive supply of AstraZeneca. Individuals aged 40 and older are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to get the AstraZeneca vaccine at local pharmacies in order to protect themselves and those around them. A list of pharmacies offering vaccines is available at covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations.
“I want to reassure residents that while vaccine appointments may need to be delayed due to unanticipated vaccine shortages, we remain committed to getting you an appointment as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Oglaza. “We will continue to advocate to get vaccines into the arms of our residents as quickly as possible, particularly those who are most vulnerable in our community.”
As part of advocacy efforts to demonstrate the ongoing need for vaccines in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, HPEPH has contacted the Minister of Health and Chief Medical Officer of Health, requesting that original allocations be maintained or increased. As part of this request, HPEPH is sharing data that underscores the sudden increase in local case rates, which would place HPEPH in the red/control zone of the Provincial Reopening Framework if the Stay at Home Order were not in effect. In addition, HPEPH is reinforcing that local residents are at an elevated risk for COVID-19 related complications compared to the provincial average, and maintaining vaccination efforts is imperative in order to avoid severe illness and hospitalizations:
- 25 per cent of HPEPH residents are over the age of 65 (38 per cent greater than the provincial average)[i]
- Over half of HPEPH residents (55 per cent) aged 70-74, and 83 per cent of those between age 65-69 have not received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine[ii]
- 23 per cent of residents are daily smokers (75 per cent higher than the provincial average, third highest in province) a known risk factor for COVID-19[iii].
- In 2019, local hospitalizations related to COPD were 301.4 per 100,000, which is 86 per cent higher than provincial average[iv].
While HPEPH continues efforts to maintain effective rollout of vaccine in our region, it is essential that all residents continue to maintain precautions to slow the spread and protect those who are vulnerable. Maintaining precautions is critical even for those who have received one or two doses of vaccine.
- Follow the Stay at Home Order. This means staying at your own home/property, not someone else’s home, deck, patio, or yard. Leave your home/property only for essential reasons such as work, medical appointments, essential errands, and exercise.
- Stay at home and avoid contact with others if you are sick. If you have a sniffle, runny nose, headache, stomach ache, cough, sore throat, chills, fever, headache, or any of the other symptoms of COVID-19, just stay home. Avoid going out even for essential purposes until you can book a COVID-19 test and you receive a negative result. There is no such thing as “just a cold” during the pandemic.
- Get tested for COVID-19. If you have symptoms, even mild ones, you must stay home until a negative test result or alternative diagnosis is received.
- Continue to wear a face covering, distance from others, and wash your hands frequently. These actions will help reduce potential risk of exposure for yourself and others until vaccine is available to all.
- Please be kind and patient. During these unprecedented times, it is easy to place blame on those around us. Please remember local health care workers, public health representatives, essential workers, educators, support staff, families, and students, are your neighbours, friends, and loved ones. Please help support those who are doing their best to keep our community safe by recognizing and respecting these efforts.
Please continue to visit hpepublichealth.ca/covid-19-vaccines for the latest COVID-19 vaccine information.