Retired General Rick Hillier says the idea that a majority of COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario are sitting in freezers is incorrect and that the province has the opposite problem.
“The information is misleading. We’re actually going to run out of vaccines,” Hillier told CTV Morning Live in Ottawa on Wednesday.
“Yesterday, we vaccinated more than 10,000 people in the province of Ontario. We will do the same and more again today. We are at the point now where we will start running out of vaccines as the people who need the second shot start coming back,” he said.
The retired Canadian Armed Forces General is leading Ontario’s vaccine distribution task force. He suggested on Tuesday that holding back 35,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine contributed to the slow roll out, and acknowledged that pausing vaccinations during Christmas was a mistake.
However, on Wednesday morning, he stressed that the supply of doses in the province is dwindling rapidly.
“One hospital will run out tomorrow, another said to me last night they’ll run out by Tuesday and others are saying ‘should we slow down?’ and the answer is no,” Hillier said, “vaccinate as many people as quickly as you can and run out, and we’re going to push for more vaccines to come to the province of Ontario.”
According to data from the Ontario government, 60,380 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the province as of 8 p.m. Jan. 5. There are 860 people in Ontario who have received both doses and completed their vaccinations so far.
Hillier said he expects another shipment of vaccines from the federal government next week, but he doesn’t know when it will arrive.
“We don’t know when it’s supposed to come. We’re assuming one will come and hopefully it will. We don’t know which day it will arrive but we’re going to run out of vaccinations next week,” he reiterated.
Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca is calling on Premier Doug Ford to bring in the military to aid in vaccine distribution and speed up the rate at which people are vaccinated.
Hillier says, however, that the issue is not one of logistics, but of supply.
“We’ve got 19 vaccination sites running in the province right now. We’re going to ramp up to 21, 22 in the coming weeks, but the problem is there’s no sense in ramping up if we don’t have vaccines to go to the sites and put in people’s arms,” he said.
“People have to go realize the number of vaccines flowing to Canada and therefore flowing to Ontario is actually really, really small. And when you get people now coming back for their second needle to complete the vaccination program, that starts to take up an increasing proportion of what vaccines we get and it makes our flexibility even less, even tighter. What we need is more vaccines. We are working to that end. As soon as we get them, they’re going to flow across the province.”
1.2 million additional vaccine doses are expected to arrive in Canada this month. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that he would be speaking with premiers this week to urge them to speed up their vaccination programs.
“Now is the time, with the new year upon us, to really accelerate and that’s certainly what I’ll be talking with the premiers about… how the federal government can support and help in getting these vaccines even more quickly out to Canadians,” Trudeau said.
The story has made national headlines in the United States: Foreigners aged 65 and older in Florida, including Canadian snowbirds, are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine.
Some snowbirds who made the journey to Florida this winter — despite Canada’s advisory not to travel abroad during the pandemic — are counting their lucky stars, as they could wait months to get the shot in Canada. But they also face a backlash from some locals who argue non-Floridians shouldn’t get early access to vaccines that are currently in short supply.
“We’re first. Get to the end of the line if they want to come,” Florida resident Judy Allen told a local NBC TV station on Friday at a vaccine clinic in Sanford, Fla., north of Orlando.
A week earlier, Canadian snowbirds Andrew Paton, 75, and his wife, Jill, 74, each got their first vaccine dose at a clinic in a gated community in Palm City, Fla., where they own a home. They’re set to get their followup shot on Feb. 4.
“I’m just glad I got it,” said Andrew Paton, who is from Toronto. “Our American friends are thrilled. We’re part of this community. Let’s get everybody vaccinated if we can.”
But not everyone is on side. A few days after getting the shot, Paton said someone sent a letter to the board of his gated community, complaining that Canadian residents were offered the vaccine.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “We’re not taking it from anybody. Everybody in this community who wanted one could get one.”
Unlike Canada, Florida is offering COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone aged 65 and older during the first phase of its vaccine rollout. While the state discourages visitors from coming specifically to get the shot, seasonal residents are welcome to sign up.
That policy has especially angered some Floridians who have yet to secure a vaccination appointment due to a slower-than-planned rollout.
“They’re taking it from people that are ahead of them … It’s not their stockpile,” said Clare Archer, 67, of Englewood Isles, Fla., south of Tampa.
Archer is a dual Canadian-American citizen who grew up in northern Ontario and has lived in Florida for the past 25 years. She said due to the short supply of vaccines in her region, both she and her husband have yet to snag an appointment.
And even though she has Canadian roots, Archer said she objects to snowbirds both travelling to Florida during a pandemic and getting the vaccine before some Floridians.
“They absolutely should not be here,” she said. “It’s beyond infuriating.”
WATCH | Why Canada’s vaccine rollout is so slow:
Several Florida politicians are also angry. Last week, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced he’s trying to revise the rules so that non-permanent residents in Miami are last in line to receive the vaccine.
And on Jan. 10, Rick Scott, one of the state’s U.S. senators, declared on Twitter: “Vaccines must go first to Floridians.”
This is deeply concerning. Vaccines must go first to Floridians, starting with our health care and front line workers and most vulnerable populations. This week, I asked for answers from <a href=”https://twitter.com/HealthyFla?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@HealthyFla</a> and more info on Florida’s vaccine distribution: <a href=”https://t.co/ASBzKoMnh7″>https://t.co/ASBzKoMnh7</a> <a href=”https://t.co/FcWFfmk5jP”>https://t.co/FcWFfmk5jP</a>
It’s up to each U.S. state to decide who gets priority during the vaccine rollout. In a news conference earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis explained why he’s not turning away seasonal residents who meet the current age requirement.
“We’re a transient state,” he said. “People who are here, four or five months a year, they have relationships with doctors, they get medical care in Florida.”
Canadian snowbirds on Good Morning America
Visitors in Florida getting the vaccine has become such a hot topic, the popular TV show Good Morning America covered the issue in a news segment on Friday.
“Residents across America — even Canada and Argentina — flocking to Florida … leading to what some are calling vaccine tourism,” the segment said.
The story featured Canadian snowbirds Shelton and Karen Papple of Brantford, Ont. The couple travelled to their home in Fort Myers before Florida announced its vaccine plans, and are both scheduled to get their first dose on Monday.
Papple, 66, told CBC News he has no qualms about getting vaccinated in Florida.
“We live here, we pay taxes,” he said. “We’re all in this together. It’s a world problem and everybody should be banding together.”
He said he also believes that reports of Canadians flocking to the state to get the vaccine are overblown, because there are plenty of hurdles. On top of securing a vaccine appointment, you must test negative for COVID-19 before travelling to Florida (effective Jan. 26); stay in Florida for up to a month to get the second dose; receive another negative COVID-19 test before returning to Canada; and quarantine for 14 days upon your return.
But some Canadians are still willing to make the trip.
Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone of Toronto’s Travel Secure said about 100 of his snowbird clients who originally decided not to head to Florida this winter due to the pandemic are now planning to travel to the state to get vaccinated.
But these aren’t cases of “vaccine tourism,” he said, because his clients plan to stay for the rest of the winter.
“They all own property and are really just exercising their right, I guess, to head down to a state that is offering vaccines,” said Firestone.
Papple suggests that as Florida secures and doles out more doses, the backlash against foreigners like him getting the shot will calm down.
“As things go along, the more and more people get vaccinated, I think that becomes a duller story.”
To help speed up the rollout, the state is now offering vaccine shots at a major pharmacy chain in the state. And more than a dozen federal lawmakers representing Florida, including Sen. Marco Rubio, have asked federal officials to beef up Florida’s vaccine supply to accommodate its large number of seasonal residents.
Ontario must cut COVID-19 cases to 1,000 daily to lift lockdowns, medical officer says – Global News
TORONTO — COVID-19 cases in Ontario must fall below 1,000 per day before lockdown measures can be lifted, the province’s top doctor said Monday as he expressed cautious optimism that infection rates may have plateaued.
Dr. David Williams said while the province’s virus rates remain high – with 2,578 new cases reported Monday – he thinks the impact of a provincewide lockdown that started on Boxing Day is beginning to emerge.
Williams said Ontario’s seven-day case average has dropped to just over 3,000 cases he said, down from the mid-3,000s in recent weeks.
He said he would like to see the province’s new daily case counts move to levels last seen in late October before any pandemic measures are relaxed.
“It is achievable, we can get back there,” Williams said. “I take that as a sign that Ontarians … are making headway.”
Williams said he would also like to see the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital intensive care units drop to 150 – from 395 reported Monday – before ending the lockdown.
“If you get below 150 COVID patients in ICU beds that starts to get you back down to where all the hospitals can start to do their other elective procedures,” he said.
Williams said while people must continue to stay-at-home and follow public health rules, the latest numbers show that Ontario’s per cent positivity has not risen in recent days.
His comments come less than a week after the province was plunged into its second state of emergency during the pandemic and Premier Doug Ford’s government imposed a stay-at-home order.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
LILLEY: Vaccine debacle triggers scramble to make do with existing supply – Toronto Sun
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In two weeks, starting Jan. 31, deliveries are expected to drop by 50% — from 143,000 doses to 71,500.
During the week of Feb. 7, deliveries are expected to be 45% lower than promised with regular deliveries starting the week of Feb. 14.
“The impact is huge,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Monday.
Officials working on the provincial plan described a logistics nightmare of having to change gears. Instead of ramping up to vaccinate a record number of people, they’re trying to ensure that those who have received the first shot get their second.
It was the same reaction in Alberta.
“We’ll have to delay the number of planned vaccines for eligible health-care workers, and the vaccinations to other Albertans,” Premier Jason Kenney said.
“This week, new shipments of Pfizer vaccines will not be enough to match our pace of inoculation, and so appointments regrettably will have to be rescheduled.”
While Kenney mused about trying to find other vaccine supplies elsewhere, Ford said he wants Ontario to ramp up vaccine production in the future.
Contrary to what many have claimed, Canada still has vaccine manufacturing capabilities.
There have been attempts by the Liberals to blame the Harper Conservatives, or even Brian Mulroney’s government, for Canada not being a player in vaccine manufacturing. It’s nothing but politics.
The Mulroney government sold off what had been known as Connaught Laboratories to a French firm in the ’80s. Today, it’s the Connaught Campus of French vaccine giant Sanofi Pasteur and is Canada’s largest vaccine manufacturer.
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