As the COVID-19 vaccine ramps up, many Bradford residents are wondering when it will be their turn to roll up their sleeves.
On Friday, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) announced that starting Monday, March 22, residents age 75+ will be able to pre-register for their vaccine appointments via its website.
In addition to the new age group extending to those born in 1946 or earlier, vaccine appointment pre-registration is still open to select frontline health care workers, essential caregivers for residents of long-term care and retirement homes, Indigenous adults and their household members, and adult recipients of chronic home care.
The SMDHU says they hope to get to the Phase 2 groups soon as possible.
“Vaccine supply is increasing so it will allow us to move to Phase 2 and younger and more groups soon,” said a spokesperson from the health unit. The SMDHU will be updating and providing links from their website and sharing them with the media as soon as they do.
Due to high counts of variant cases, Simcoe-Muskoka is one of 13 regions to be given higher allocations of the Ontario vaccine supply.
As of 6 p.m., March 17, more than 30,000 vaccine appointments have been booked for Simcoe-Muskoka region through the province’s online portal, which included 222,000 appointments booked through the Ontario system for first and second doses by residents across Ontario as of 8 a.m. on March 18.
Ontario reported yesterday the Simcoe Muskoka region has received 61,815 doses of Pfizer, 4,600 doses of Moderna, and 4,500 of AstraZeneca to date.
Officials have promised 7,020 doses of Pfizer for the region this week, and tentative future deliveries are as follows:
- 17,550 doses of Pfizer the week of March 22
- 3,900 doses of Moderna the week of March 22
- 7,600 doses of Moderna the week of March 29
The region’s vaccine distribution has included:
- More than 57,000 doses administered in the region
- More than 16,000 people are fully vaccinated (two doses)
- More than 3,100 long-term care residents (98 per cent) have received at least one dose and 2,900 are fully vaccinated
- More than 3,100 long-term care staff (79 per cent) have received at least one dose and more than 2,500 of them have received both doses
- More than 900 doses have been administered through family health teams via the AstraZeneca pilot project
There are approximately 1.8 million people in Ontario that qualify for the phase one priority groups, which include seniors in congregate living settings, health care workers, Indigenous adults and their households, adult recipients of chronic home care, and all adults aged 80 or over.
The second phase of vaccine rollout includes a potential nine million eligible Ontarians between 60 and 79 years old, those living in high-risk congregate settings like shelters and community living, individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers, those who cannot work from home, and at-risk populations.
According to the SMDHU website, in 2016, there were approximately 101,660 seniors—ages 65 years and older—living in Simcoe Muskoka, up from around 82,475 seniors from 2011.
Simcoe Muskoka’s seniors made up 19 percent of Simcoe Muskoka’s total population (Simcoe at 18 percent and Muskoka at 25.5 per cent respectively) in 2016. This is higher than the percentage of seniors in the Ontario population, which was only 16.7 per cent. Wasaga Beach had the highest proportion of seniors (33.4 per cent) of all the municipalities in Simcoe Muskoka.
Though the province has the ability to deliver four million doses of vaccinations against COVID-19 in a month, the supply does not match that capacity. The situation in the Simcoe-Muskoka region is the same, with 12 mass-immunization clinics across Simcoe County and Muskoka, though none are open seven days a week because of limited supply.
“How fast we can immunize depends on a number of factors number of clinics/appointments, staff capabilities, community healthcare partner involvement,” said the health unit. There are currently nine family health teams immunizing with the AstraZeneca vaccine to 60-64-year-old patients.
In Bradford, Bob Fallis Sports Centre on 10th Sideroad is the only vaccine clinic location, open Fridays and Saturdays, by appointment only.
Due to some glitches with the online booking system earlier this week as the health unit transitioned to the provincial booking portal, those who had made appointments in Bradford for the week of March 15 had to be cancelled.
In April, the province expects more than 395,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine every week.
Moderna is also on the way with 323,200 doses due by the end of the month. The province expects to receive Moderna deliveries via the federal government every two weeks starting in April.
Future deliveries of AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are expected, but the timing and number of doses are unknown at this time.
As of March 19, there have been 63,351 vaccinations administered in the region.
Vaccine appointments for Simcoe-Muskoka residents must be booked through the provincial system, which can be accessed online here.
The region’s top doctor, Dr. Charles Gardner will have further updates on the region’s vaccine rollout progress and plans on Tuesday in his weekly media briefing, which is broadcast live on the SMDHU Facebook page.
-with files from Erika Engel