The good news about vaccinations is there are two days of clinics planned at the Niagara-on-the-Lake community centre, May 15 and 16.
And apart from the designated hot spots, where those 18 and over can be vaccinated, those 55 and older can book a vaccination at one of the public health community clinics through the province’s online portal at Ontario.ca/bookvaccine, or by phoning 1-833-943-3900. That includes the NOTL clinics.
The age limit is being lowered this week to allow appointments for people aged 50 and up.
Next week, said Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Niagara’s acting chief medical officer, the age is expected to be lowered to 40-plus, then during the week of May 17 it goes down to 30-plus, and by the last week of May, it should be available to anyone 18 and older.
The number of available appointments will depend on how much vaccine the region receives, but he was expecting a good amount to come this way.
Ontario is expaected to receive about 50 per cent more vaccine than originally promised in the coming weeks, but it will go to the hot spots across the province, said Hirji.
Vaccination eligibility is opening up to include people with some high-risk health conditions, and for caregivers, and will be further opened up in coming weeks for those with other medical conditions.
Also in the coming days, people who can’t work from home and fall into the province’s list of essential workers should be eligible. That list is expected to be expanded next week.
For a complete list of who can be vaccinated and when, visit COVID-19.ontario.ca, or call call the COVID-19 Info-Line at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074.
The bad news on the vaccination front is the shortage of the AstraZeneca vaccine is affecting the ability of pharmacies and primary care doctors to offer vaccinations, said Hirji.
Sean Simpson of Simpson’s Pharmacy says he hasn’t been able to make any new appointments for more than a week, and officially used up the last of his vaccine Monday.
He has no confirmation of any on its way, and although that could change, he’s not expecting it any time soon.
He’s disappointed with the provincial decision from the beginning of the vaccination roll-out, a decision he calls “nonsense,” to only offer AstraZeneca to pharmacies, based on the ultra-cold temperatures needed for storage of Moderna and Pfizer.
Those vaccines both have a fridge life of five days, and pharmacies can handle that, as they do other medications, says Simpson.
With the possibility of vaccinating 50 people or more a day, he could effectively control appointments to ensure no vaccine goes to waste, he says.
Ontario is now considering a pilot project to send Pfizer and Moderna to pharmacies, that could have been done from the start of the roll-out, as other provinces have done, says Simpson.
At this point, he is playing a waiting game, with no expectation of vaccine delivery “any time soon.”
Meanwhile he has a waiting list of more than 1,000 people, eligible according to their age, for both the Virgil pharmacy and the King Street Apothecary. There may be some overlap, he says, and some who have received vaccinations elsewhere, but there are still a lot of people waiting for vaccinations. His message remains, “sign up on any list you can find, and take the first appointment you’re offered.”
Julie Dyck of Stone Road Pharmacy is in a similar predicament, out of vaccine, and with no idea of when to expect her next shipment. She has administered the 300 doses she received, holding evening clinics to accommodate locals, and still has a waiting list.
“It’s really hard to say no to people,” she says. “But they understand.”
She would love to be part of the provincial pilot project for the other vaccines, and will be happy to administer whatever doses come her way, she says.