City and public health officials have heard from residents having problems booking an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine through the provincial reservation system, as well as limited supplies of the vaccine being distributed to the district.
THUNDER BAY – As more people are now able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after the province lowered the age to 75 this week, issues of supply and scheduling leave you very frustrated and disappointed.
Thunder Bay Mayor Bill Mauro said in a statement on Wednesday that his office had received numerous calls from residents having difficulty making an appointment for a vaccine with the province’s online portal, as well as a lack of vaccine availability in the district.
Mauro raised concerns with the health minister’s office earlier this month over why the city is not designated as a COVID-19 hotspot and why it was not included in the pilot project to administer AstraZeneca vaccine in pharmacies to people aged 60 and 64.
“I haven’t received a clear answer that Thunder Bay is not on the hotspot list,” said Mauro. “However, I was given clear assurances that Thunder Bay would receive an additional vaccine, in addition to our per capita allocation, due to the number of COVID-19 cases in the city.
Thunder Bay District Health Unit Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Janet DeMille, said she had also heard from residents about scheduling vaccine appointments online.
“There are definitely challenges with the provincial system,” she said. “We are trying to find our way around. We have opened some appointments and we realize that a lot of people are having problems. This has continued since the launch of the reservation system and I know this poses significant challenges for members of our community who wish to access it. ”
Another obstacle facing the local health unit is vaccine supply. DeMille said the district receives between 3,000 and 5,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine per week. The supply of Moderna vaccines is less and arrives every two weeks.
“We have more capacity to deliver vaccines than we have in stock,” she says. “We have to navigate in there. There are a lot of organizations capable of delivering and willing and willing to deliver and we have to deny them these opportunities or reduce the number of vaccines and that’s disappointing. ”
This week, more than 6,000 doses will be administered across the district and DeMille said the health unit is considering adding more clinics and she hopes the supply will remain consistent and increase.
At the start of the pandemic, Mauro also contacted General Hillier, head of the province’s vaccine task force, Premier Doug Ford, and Health Minister Christine Elliot to request special attention for the city due various health problems that are disproportionately prevalent in the region.
“Many citizens of Thunder Bay and I still have many questions about our vaccine supply to the province,” said Mauro. “We need to be confident that the unique needs of our city and region are being met by the province. I also believe that the citizens of Thunder Bay deserve a clear and concise answer as to why Thunder Bay was not put on the hotspot list for Ontario.