Peterborough Public Health says while its current vaccination rates are among the highest in Ontario, the vaccine supply for April is already running low just one week into the month.
Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, medical officer of health, says the overall vaccination coverage rate for the health unit’s jurisdiction is 21.2 per cent with more than 34,612 people having received their first dose as of April 1 (the majority in the city). This week vaccination appointments were expanded for residents age 60 and older. The health unit serves Peterborough, Peterborough County, Curve Lake First Nation and Hiawatha First Nation.
“We’re doing a great job,” said Salvaterra.
However, she noted that the vaccine supply as of Thursday morning was “nearly all gone” for the month of April. She said the demand for a COVID-19 vaccine is “outstripping the supply” because the region has more people over the age of 60.
“If we get more vaccines, we will open up more appointments,” said Salvaterra.
Health board chairperson Andy Mitchell says 84 per cent of seniors in the health unit’s jurisdiction to date have been vaccinated and that “vaccine hesitancy has not been evident.”
Salvaterra says the health unit could “easily use” another 11,000 doses of vaccine this month to complete city vaccinations.
“If we had another 11,000 more doses, we could potentially finish who everyone who is over 60 years of age and over in Peterborough by the end of the month.”
Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien and Peterborough County Warden J. Murray Jones issued a joint statement calling on the province to request additional vaccines for the area to aim to have all residents over age 60 vaccinated by the end of April.
“As you consider a change to how the province approaches the vaccine priority criteria, there also will need to be a change in supply approach,” they said. “We know you are united with us in our efforts to stop COVID-19 and to support our residents and businesses as we eventually can open back up and welcome visitors back to our area.”
Therrien and Jones noted the area has the highest percentage of residents over the age of 60 in Ontario — 24.2 per cent compared to the provincial average of 16 per cent.
The Peterborough area also has a high level of COVID-19 variants that are being transmitted in the community. As of Wednesday evening, the health unit reported 89 active COVID-19 cases and 252 variant cases.
Jones during the media conference disclosed he was receiving a COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday afternoon.
“We congratulate the province on making what we know was a tough decision to issue another stay-at-home order and restrictions on big-box stores,” they stated. “We want to reaffirm our commitment to working together, now more than ever, for our residents and for our businesses. This stay-at-home order is a critical time for us to ensure we have the vaccine supply we need to meet the month end target of having everyone over 60 vaccinated.”
Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith concurs “100 per cent” that the area needs more vaccines. He praised Salvaterra and the health unit for their vaccine rollout efforts, noting 89.2 per cent of area residents over the age of 80 have received their first COVID-19 shot, many with their second shot.
“It puts Peterborough Public Health in the top spot in the province for vaccination,” he said. “By comparison, some regions have less than 50 per cent of the 80-plus vaccinated.”
He also said “almost 75 per cent” of the area’s 75-80 age bracket have received at least their first vaccine dose.
Smith stressed approximately 20 per cent of the population in the health unit’s jurisdiction has been vaccinated versus the provincial average of 14 per cent.
“We are actually getting more vaccines than a lot of other areas and we’re getting those vaccines into people’s arms, which is the most important thing,” he said.
Smith said as of Tuesday, Ontario had approximately 1.4 million vaccines in freezers with 1.7 million appointments made, echoing Premier Doug Ford’s goal to have at least 40 per cent of those over age 60 vaccinated by the end of April. Currently, 14 per cent of the population is vaccinated, he said.
“We have more appointments made than we have vaccines in hand and our hope is that we can continue to receive more vaccines in a timely fashion,” he said.
Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef echoed the call for more vaccines locally, focusing on the “most vulnerable and most burdened.” She noted the federal government to date has received 10 million vaccine doses and an additional two million doses are expected this week.
“We remain on track to have 44 million doses here in Canada by June,” she said. “We have the capacity on the frontlines to get shots into arms.”