COVID-19 vaccination clinic for 40 and over in Hamilton fills up due to overwhelming response

Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman said he's had conversations with the federal government about the province's vaccine shortages.

Two Hamilton clinics offering the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine to those aged 40-plus at FirstOntario Centre filled up quickly April 20 and are now closed for bookings, according to public health.

The agency told Global News in an e-mail that a pre-invitation and booking link for the primary care clinics was sent on Tuesday to community partners and associations that represent at-risk populations.

The clinics, on Saturday (April 24) morning and Sunday (April 25) afternoon, offered a total of 1,000 appointments – 500 each day.

A spokesperson for Hamilton public health could not confirm if any more opportunities for the vaccine for people aged 40 and over would be offered beyond the weekend clinics.

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“Due to the overwhelming response, plans for further clinics are being reviewed by our primary care partners, ” said communications officer James Berry.

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The clinic at FirstOntario Centre in the downtown core vaccinates an average of 700 people per day and is expected to ramp up to as many as 3,000 a day with the increased shipments from the province expected in the months ahead.

So far the clinic has provided the most shots of all vaccination sites in Hamilton — about 64,000 of the estimated 157,000 vaccine doses administered as of April 19.

In an update on Tuesday afternoon, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said public health was beginning to look at adjustments in the vaccination program over the coming days and the possibility of including younger groups, even people 18 and over, in hot spot neighborhoods.

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“We’ve seen some of those areas have very good coverage rates now in their older populations, but maybe not yet in that 50-plus group,” said Richardson.

“So we’re continuing to work at that and decide how to best target those vaccinations in those priority neighborhoods.”

Outside of the two weekend offerings for those 40 and up at First Ontario, the youngest demographic the city is accepting bookings for is residents aged 50 and up in five Hamilton COVID-19 hot spots.

Three mobile clinics targeting that age group rolled out on the Mountain Monday, finishing on Wednesday.

Vaccinations for the general public are still limited to those aged 60 years and older in this calendar year.

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