MPP Jennie Stevens together with MPP Wayne Gates sent the following open letter calling on Dr. David Williams Chief Medical Officer of Health to support the efforts of Niagara Health in their ongoing fight against COVID-19 by immediately including Niagara in the pharmacy vaccination rollout.
March 19, 2021
Dr. David Williams
Chief Medical Officer of Health
Ministry of Health
777 Bay St.
Toronto, ON M7A 2J3
RE: Request for immediate inclusion for pharmacy vaccination rollout 2021-03-19
We are writing to you today to request that the Province include the Niagara Region in the pharmacy vaccine rollout pilot program. As you know, Niagara has the third highest concentration of seniors in the entire country. We have many senior areas in the community and that includes areas that are often composed of over 50% senior residents - if there is a place that needs to protect those residents who built this province, it is Niagara.
Over the last few months, our Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Niagara Public Health and Niagara Health have quickly vaccinated some of our most vulnerable residents. According to Public Health and Niagara Health, 31% of the 80 and above population of Niagara had already been vaccinated with one dose at the start of the week. In total, we have vaccinated or scheduled a vaccine for over 83% of that vulnerable age cohort. We will continue to expeditiously ensure that any and all vaccines given to our Region are given to the public as soon as possible upon receipt. However, despite our best efforts it still remains difficult to vaccinate those under the age of 80 with the allotment of vaccines made available to us.
Recognizing the unique concentration of a senior population in Niagara, we are asking for you to immediately act and provide additional specific vaccine relief for Niagara and include our local pharmacies in the provincial pilot program immediately. We have asked our pharmacies in Niagara and it is not only clear that they have capacity, but that they are eager to start putting vaccines in the arms of their elderly residents due to the high demand. For example, Simpson’s Pharmacy, an incredible local community partner, has told us they have the capacity to immediately help in the fight against this virus - already they have a waitlist that exceeds 3,500 seniors waiting for government approval. They are not alone among the local pharmacies willing to play a role in defeating this virus. We implore you to let these local heroes do what they do best and help save lives.
According to the science table, the majority of intensive care admissions in Ontario are within the age group of 60-70 years old. It is urgent to ensure we have a vaccination rollout strategy that includes piloting pharmacies in Niagara in order to keep pace with other younger populations across the Province. You must act now and include Niagara pharmacies being brought on board with the provincial pharmacy pilot and expand delivery channels in our region.
We will work with you to whatever degree you need to make this request a reality. Our offices look forward to discussing this matter further with you.
MPP Jennie Stevens, St. Catharines
MPP Wayne Gates, Niagara Falls, Fort Erie & Niagara-on-the-Lake
CC: Hon. Doug Ford,
Premier Premier of Ontario
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force Chair
Ministry of the Solicitor General
25 Grosvenor Street
Toronto ON M7A 1Y6