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Niagara Health reports the death of another patient treated for COVID-19, as vaccine stocks decline in the region.
Sunday’s death brings the death toll in the region to at least 402 since the start of the pandemic, according to statistics provided by Niagara hospitals and the Niagara Region Public Health Department.
Meanwhile, the third wave of the pandemic continues to decline in the region.
Public health reported 96 new cases of the virus on Monday – the least since April 6, when 73 new cases were reported. It follows more than a week of decline in daily cases in the region.
Vaccinations, however, fell significantly over the weekend, with the fewest doses given since March 21.
In an email, Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr Mustafa Hirji said the drop in vaccinations was the result of a decrease in supplies.
“We were running out of vaccines so Niagara Health didn’t have a clinic on Sunday and we at public health didn’t have one on Saturday,” he said.
Public health – it typically provides more than 1,000 doses of vaccine to community clinics – provided just 45 injections of the vaccine on Saturday and 870 on Sunday.
Hirji said no appointments were canceled or needed to be rescheduled.
“From the start, we expected that with our clinics running at full capacity last week, we wouldn’t have a vaccine to continue at this rate throughout the weekend,” Hirji said.
Although Niagara Health administered 1,536 doses on Saturday at the hospital system clinic at the Seymour Hannah Sports and Entertainment Center in St. Catharines, it did not vaccinate anyone on Sunday.
In a statement, the hospital system said no existing appointments were affected by the closure of the clinic – which reopened on Monday for immunization appointments and will provide vaccines seven days a week as long as where supply permits.
Hirji said he expects the reduced vaccine distribution to continue.
“With a similar vaccine volume arriving this week, Niagara Health and Public Health are running relatively smaller clinics throughout this week, with even smaller clinics scheduled for Sunday, May 9.
Pharmacies also provided the fewest doses since pharmacists started vaccinating people, while primary care providers gave 83 doses of the vaccine on Sunday and none on Saturday.
Pharmacist Sean Simpson, a member of the Niagara Vaccine Distribution Task Force, said pharmacists expected shipments of 300 doses of the vaccine at the end of last week, and only 100 doses arrived.
He said most pharmacies in the area either had run out of the AstraZeneca vaccine they were distributing or likely would be by the end of Monday.
Simpson said he suspected the drop in supply could be the result of the province’s decision to increase vaccinations in hot spot area codes – affecting 50 percent of the province’s total supply to these areas.
Hirji said the province expects its vaccine supply to almost double this week, but Niagara is unlikely to see many.
“This increase is all directed to the hot spots that are primarily in the GTA,” he said.
Still, he said about 55 to 60 percent of Niagara residents will have received their first dose of the vaccine by the end of May.
The number of active cases of the virus continues to rise in the region, with 3,281 Niagara residents infected on Monday, up from 3,213 on Sunday.
Niagara Health had 69 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in hospital on Monday, including 22 in intensive care units at hospitals in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.
Of these, 19 are patients transferred from other jurisdictions. The hospital’s Level 3 intensive care unit is now operating at 179% capacity.
The Niagara District Catholic School Board has reported that a person from St. Mary’s Elementary School in Niagara Falls has tested positive for the virus, although there is no risk of others being exposed to the virus. school.