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Simcoe-Muskoka getting almost 30,000 COVID vaccines in next two weeks

The region is getting an extra allocation of the provincial supply of vaccines because of its 'hotspot' status
Vaccine Clinic
A sign points the way to a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic set up by the Georgian Bay Family Health Team with support from Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

Simcoe Muskoka region is getting a larger slice of the vaccine allocation pie due to high-risk factors such as case rates, hospitalizations, deaths, and the presence of variants of concern. 

During a technical briefing held by the province today, health officials discussed upcoming vaccine deliveries, noting Simcoe Muskoka would be getting at least 29,050 doses of vaccines against COVID-19 by the end of March. 

The provincial allocation is driven by both age and at-risk factors. Health officials stated the allocation starts with population and then doses are "over-allocated" to areas of higher risk. Simcoe-Muskoka region included. 

According to information released by the province today, more than 30,000 vaccine appointments have been booked for Simcoe-Muskoka region through the province’s online portal as of March 17 at 6 p.m.

Those are included in more than 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 today 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

Vaccinations are only available for phase one priority groups, including people aged 80 or over. 

According to the provincial vaccine roll out briefing today, more age groups will be able to book vaccine appointments when bookings for those 80 and older are “high enough.” 

Officials in the technical briefing today said there’s no specific threshold for what is high enough to move into phase two appointments, but said the province is trying to balance the completion of phase one while making sure all available appointments are booked so vaccines are being administered as quickly as possible as they are available. 

The rollout will also depend heavily on regional medical officers of health letting the province know when they’re ready to move into other groups from phase two. 

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. 

Within each of those phase two groups are further prioritized sub-groups, but government officials confirmed the “cannot work from home” group will include restaurant and retail workers within the sub-groups.

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.

According to a technical briefing by provincial officials today, there are 466,830 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on the way to Ontario for the week of March 22 and the same number again for the week of March 29. 

Most will be distributed to health units, but the province will keep some doses in reserve in case of emergency situations such as the outbreak at Roberta Place in January.

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 is unknown at this time.

Vaccine appointments for Simcoe-Muskoka residents must be booked through the provincial system, which can be accessed online 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 13 years of experience as a local journalist
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