Blaming federal refusals, Dilkens abandons cross-border vaccination project – .

Blaming federal refusals, Dilkens abandons cross-border vaccination project – .

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A second letter from a Canadian government agency – this one from the Canada Border Services Agency – stifled Mayor Drew Dilkens’ campaign to put Michigan’s surplus vaccines into the arms of Windsor-Essex residents.

“It is just disappointing that a way could not be found to help make this happen as it would have helped speed up the full vaccination” of the community, the mayor said on Friday, after receiving a letter. from CBSA Regional Director General Christine Durocher addressing her July 16. request for assistance to facilitate a vaccination clinic in the tunnel at the Canada-US border. She tells him that the CBSA “cannot authorize the closure of the Windsor-Detroit Tunnal port of entry,” saying it would significantly disrupt cross-border trade and travel and have “significant security implications.”

The letter comes two weeks after another federal bureaucrat, Kathy Thompson, executive vice-president of the Public Health Agency of Canada, wrote to the mayor to push back on plans to set up a vaccination clinic in the tunnel ( half of which is Canadian owned by the city of Windsor) with several dos and don’ts, including a warning that if an American nurse or pharmacist administering the vaccine “crosses the border to give it to a person in Canada”, this amounts to importing a drug for sale in Canada and contravenes Canadian health and customs regulations.

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“Both letters are interesting, but when you marry them it’s pretty clear that the federal government doesn’t want this to happen,” Dilkens said, pointing to the reduction in Pfizer’s supply locally, which has resulted in a increasingly abundant supply of Moderna. given to people whose first dose was Pfizer.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens is shown at the international border inside the Windsor / Detroit Tunnel on Tuesday April 16, 2019. He was part of a ceremony to commemorate a massive fire that occurred 170 years ago in the border which required the efforts of the fire departments of both towns. Photo de Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Dilkens said things were set up and ready to go on two days’ notice, with 5,000 doses of Pfizer from Michigan available for the second dose for residents of Windsor-Essex. This would have helped fill the void caused by Pfizer’s dwindling supply and help everyone get their second dose sooner.

“In a nutshell (the letters) is our federal government saying ‘No, we’re not going to let that happen,’” Dilkens said. First, the Public Health Agency warned the city, “then through the CBSA they basically say, ‘No, we’re not going to work with you to close the tunnel and make that happen. “

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An online waiting list created by the mayor’s office had 12,300 people registered for a second dose.

Steadily improving vaccination rates now stand at 71.6% for people 12 years of age and over with a first dose, and 35% for the second dose. Dilkens began his campaign at a time when Canadian officials were talking about a single-dose summer and the mayor intended to reopen the border and get life back to normal.

“Obviously the longer this went on, the supply was going to catch up with the demand and it is absolutely starting to happen,” said Dilkens, who also pointed out that the doses wasted in Michigan due to a glut of supply. have gone from 35,000 when he started to over 60,000 now.

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He said he was just trying to find a way to get this excess vaccine into the arms of local residents in need of a second dose. They did so at other border crossings, particularly the Carway border crossing between Alberta and Montana, he said. He said that through this process he heard from Canadian officials that the main obstacle was on the American side, Dilkens said.

“This letter (from the CBSA) proves that it was not the United States, it was our own government that did not want this to happen. “

As more supplies arrive in Windsor, cross-border vaccination becomes a non-issue at some point, said the mayor, who received his second dose earlier this week.

“It is what it is,” he said. “I know which side of history I wanted to be on… and that was to make sure I was fighting like hell for my community because at the time we were in a situation where there was not enough supply and we had to do better. “

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