Delays in COVID-19 vaccine delivery prompt Province to set new timeline for vaccination of most vulnerable people

Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman and Ontario Premier Doug Ford are appealing for residents to stay home. Data from local and provincial health officials show the stay-at-home message may be working, as rates of infection appear to be declining.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford today expressed frustration over delays in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, but said “we continue to press ahead and make steady progress” with the plan to accelerate the vaccination of the most vulnerable people in the province.
“We are actively giving out first doses to residents in long-term care, high-risk retirement homes, and First Nations’ elder-care homes with an updated goal of completion of Feb. 10,” he said.
The Province is expecting to receive 63,400 Moderna doses from the federal government by Feb. 5, he continued, adding that they are earmarked for the “most vulnerable as soon as possible.”
The premier went on to say the first round of vaccinations has been completed “for those who are willing and eligible, in all long-term care homes,” including: Simcoe/Muskoka, Toronto, Peel, York, Windsor Essex, Duran, Halton, Hamilton, Niagara, and Ottawa.
As of the start of the month, more than 344,000 doses have been administered across the province, said the premier, with over 70,000 fully vaccinated.
“With the uncertainty surrounding the steady supply of vaccines, it is clear we need to start production of COVID vaccines right here in Canada. We need to ensure that our ability to protect our citizens is not compromised by a lack of vaccine supply. We need a reliable source of vaccines in this country as soon as possible.”
In a related development, the federal government has inked a deal that will see millions of vaccine doses produced at a facility in Montreal. Ford also said his government continues to build capacity to provide mass vaccinations when supplies allow.
“We currently have the capacity to vaccinate 40,000 people per day, and we will be able to triple or quadruple that pending the federal government supply.”
Here in Simcoe/Muskoka, the health unit reports 16,501 doses of vaccine have been administered in the district, mainly to healthcare workers in local hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes. This includes 977 individuals that have received both of the required doses of the vaccine. In addition, 2,851 (or 89 per cent) of long-term-care residents and 2,242 (or 62 per cent) of retirement-home residents have received their first dose.
The average cumulative growth of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Simcoe/Muskoka region continues to decline as measures to contain the virus remain in place.
For the week starting Jan. 24, 304 new cases were reported, more than 30 per cent lower than the 444 cases reported for the week of Jan. 17. New variants of the virus are also in the region. The health unit reports that to date, 19 local cases have tested positive for the COVID-19 variant UK B.1.1.7, and an additional 126 cases have screened positive (awaiting confirmatory testing).
For the current week, 13 cases have been reported, with the total of confirmed cases now sitting at 5,484, involving 150 deaths. During January, 80 Simcoe Muskoka residents died from COVID-19, more than four times higher than the number of deaths in December.
“Approximately one-quarter of all cases reported … were associated with Roberta Place Long-Term Care Home outbreak in Barrie,” reports the unit.
“There have been over 1,000 cases associated with local outbreaks since the start of the pandemic. From March to October, approximately 75 per cent of these cases were linked to long-term care and retirement-home outbreaks and more than 20 per cent were linked to workplace outbreaks,” reports the unit.
See the list of current institutional outbreaks for more details.
The Province is reporting 745 new cases today, but says the low number is due to data issues. Nationally, the death toll has crested the 20,000 mark.
Most COVID-19 cases in Simcoe Muskoka are from the Barrie and South Simcoe areas. Click here to view the epidemic curve by municipality.
“Getting vaccinated is our path to normal. So when it’s your turn, please go get the vaccine. Until then, I couldn’t be any clearer: please stay home, stay safe, and save lives,” said Ford.