The general public will have to wait until August for the COVID-19 vaccine

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Most people in Ottawa will have to wait until at least August before they can expect to be vaccinated against COVID-19, a schedule that depends almost entirely on the vaccine supply.
City officials presented their vaccination plan for Ottawa in a multi-hour technical briefing on Tuesday morning, outlining the logistics needed to get the needles up and running as soon as possible.

The vaccination program will be rolled out in three phases, according to the priorities set by the province.

The first one, which we are currently in, focuses on residents, personal caregivers and staff of long-term care homes, all of whom have already been visited at least once. More than 92 percent of residents in long-term care homes have been vaccinated once and some will receive their second dose later this week.

Residents of retirement homes, some health workers, adults from Indigenous communities and adults receiving chronic care are also included in this first phase.

The second phase, which can begin in March if supplies are available, will focus on inoculating people over the age of 80, essential workers and others in high-risk situations, although officials say the province is still tweaking who exactly will count as high. -risk.

Everyone else will have to wait until at least August before getting vaccinated.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Vera Etches told reporters she was confident that health workers could immunize up to 70 percent of the population in two months. The city already has four inoculation clinics ready to open at any time and is in the process of running three more in communities with high transmission rates.

Between these seven public health clinics, two vaccination centers at The Ottawa Hospital, family doctors, pharmacies and mobile vaccination teams, public health workers could potentially vaccinate 10,800 people per day. If there is sufficient supply, the city can speed up the vaccination program by operating the clinics 24 hours a day, seven days a week and opening a drive-thru vaccination center.

Vaccine supply the main problem

Logistically, the city seems ready to go. Its residents are ready too: A recent survey conducted by EKOS for Ottawa Public Health (OPH) indicated that more than 80 percent are ready to get the vaccine as soon as possible.

But Tuesday’s briefing made it clear that the biggest challenge facing the immunization task force is vaccine availability.

Ottawa is only expected to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is on hold for a week as the company increases its production facilities in Belgium. But as the overwhelming demand for vaccines continues, there is little information on how many doses Ontario can expect in the coming weeks.

And as the province distributed the vaccine on a per capita basis, that has changed with recent shortages.

The vaccine is a “provincial asset,” Ottawa Emergency and Protective Services General Manager Anthony Di Monte said Tuesday, and the government must distribute it across the province to ensure it reaches groups. priority.

“Difficult decisions” ahead

Ottawa must therefore have enough vaccine to deliver long-term care residents their second doses within the prescribed timeframe of 21 to 28 days and within 42 days for others in the first phase of the deployment plan.

But if the city is ready to move to phase two before other areas of the province have finished vaccinating their most vulnerable residents, Ottawa will have to wait until there are enough vaccines to circulate.

“I think we are not living in a troubling time, but in a time when we will have to make difficult decisions at the provincial level to ensure that our most vulnerable and those the medical team has identified as the most critical [get vaccinated]”Said Di Monte.

“Vaccines from different jurisdictions may now be moved. We can win at times, or we can lose the vaccine because it has to go elsewhere. ”

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