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Moderna, AstraZeneca vaccines on the way for Simcoe-Muskoka

The health unit's vaccine waitlist is full but added supply would open up more appointments for seniors and health care workers
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Simcoe Muskoka will be receiving doses of both the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines to add to its supply of Pfizer BioNTech vaccines. 

Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, said he’s expecting “a lot more” vaccines from the province in the next two weeks. 

The extra supply combined with new provincial direction to spread out the double doses by up to four months has Gardner hopeful the health unit will be able to speed up its local vaccine rollout. 

“We’re going to be starting to receive AstraZeneca … and will soon be receiving Moderna. That gives us more options,” said Gardner. “It would be very helpful to everybody if we were able to get a first dose to more people sooner.” 

The AstraZeneca vaccines are allocated to Simcoe Muskoka as part of a pilot program run by the province and including primary caregivers. Gardner deferred questions on the program to the province. 

Moderna will be used for the community rollout, and is slightly easier to handle and store than the Pfizer vaccine, which requires sub-zero refrigeration. 

The health unit has coordinated with community partners to open 13 appointment-only vaccination clinics throughout the region. But all clinics are limited by the supply of Pfizer vaccine available to the region. 

“We know the province is giving additional vaccine to areas they call hotspots, and Simcoe-Muskoka is considered one of those hotspots,” said Gardner during a media briefing Tuesday. 

There are currently no appointments available at vaccination sites in Simcoe-Muskoka. 

Gardner said he anticipates more appointments will open up as the health unit receives vaccine supplies. 

To date, the health unit has administered 51,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Dr. Gardner provided the following breakdown for how those doses were allocated: 

  • 15,700 people have received two doses of the vaccine 
  • 3,602 doses went to individuals in the community aged 85 years and older
  • 184 doses went to people who are receiving chronic home care 
  • Adults living in four First Nation communities have received at least one dose
  • 94 per cent of people living in long-term care and retirement homes have received both doses of the vaccine
  • Vaccines have also been given to health care workers at hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes.

Currently, the health unit is running its own booking system for vaccine clinics, but starting March 15, the province will be launching its own vaccine appointment system with priority groups determined by the Ontario rollout plan. 

Gardner said at that time, the health unit would be transitioning its own booking system into the provincial system. 

For updates on the health unit’s appointments, waitlist, and booking information, click here.

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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