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Hamilton reports 2 more COVID-19 deaths, 50 per cent of adult population vaccinated

Appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations were snapped up across Ontario on Tuesday morning after the province let anyone aged 18 and older book their first shot.

Hamiltonians expressed their frustration on the city’s Twitter account on Tuesday with the provincial booking portal and vaccine hotline telling many there were no appointments available.

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist at St. Joseph’s Hospital says that’s something the new eligible group will just have to deal with in the coming weeks since vaccine demand is still outweighing vaccine supplies.

Read more: Ontario reports 1,588 new COVID-19 cases, 2nd day in a row cases are below 2,000

“The province probably needs to come and put out the expectation for people in areas, particularly with not so great supplies coming in,” Chagla told Global News.

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“Even though it’s open to 18, don’t expect you as an 18-year-old can get an appointment tomorrow.”

As of Wednesday, more than 7.4 million doses of vaccines have been administered across Ontario, according to public health.

An estimated 50 per cent of Hamilton’s adult population (over 18) have now been vaccinated with almost 257,000 does administered as of Tuesday.

Canada will receive its largest shipment of vaccines this week as Pfizer and Moderna will drop a combined 4.5-million doses by the holiday weekend.

With the province ending a campaign to send 50 per cent of all vaccines to COVID hot spots in Toronto, Peel and York, Hamilton may see a slight increase in supply over the next week.

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Read more: Tam hopeful for summer even as Canada’s COVID-19 death toll tops 25K

Chagla says with a more broad demographic now eligible for shots it should create more flexibility and varied opportunities for health care units to distribute supply and avoid spoilage issues.

“It creates more opportunities for pop-ups to then just enroll anyone that’s at the site. So yeah, it’s more a net positive than negative,” Chagla said.

The fate of the 600,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines expected to arrive in Canada this week is still up in the air as some provinces, including Ontario, have put a hold on those doses for the time being.

Chagla suggests the shots should be administered in the province to recipients “with informed consent” of data from the United Kingdom tied to the blood clots that have affected 18 people in Canada.

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Others who received their first dose of AstraZeneca and are not comfortable with the brand should be given the option of waiting for the completion of studies on mixing doses.

“That will hopefully be out in a couple of weeks’ time,” Chagla said. “But I think we can’t just stand here with vaccines in the fridge waiting for them to expire.”

In keeping with provincial directives, the city of Hamilton opened up second doses to health-care workers identified as “high-risk” on Tuesday which allows for jabs earlier than the 16 week wait originally ordered by Queens Park.

The groups that qualify include hospital and acute care staff in front-line roles, medical first responders, community health-care workers as well as long-term care home and retirement-home health-care workers.

Hamilton reports 126 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Hamilton reported 126 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and two more virus-related deaths.

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Read more: Ontario to resume non-urgent surgeries and procedures as COVID-19 numbers decline

Two people in their 80s were the victims with one tied to a ongoing outbreak at the Juravinski Hospital’s F4 unit.

The city has now had 376 deaths amid the pandemic.

Public health closed six workplace outbreaks on Tuesday with the largest at the Aryzta/Oakrun Farm Bakery on Fiddlers Green Road. The facility had 43 total cases in a span of 37 days.

The five other much smaller outbreaks were ended at Criticall Ontario, Active Green and Ross on Upper James, a construction site at 154 Main St. E., Verbinnen’s Nursery in Dundas and the Shoppers Drug Mart on Highway 8.

Two new outbreaks on the west Mountain were declared on Tuesday at the St. Martin’s Manor Early Learning Centre and Sweet Paradise Bakery & Deli on Stone Church Road West. Both have just two cases each.

Read more: ‘Game-changer’: How mRNA COVID-19 vaccine technology could help fight other diseases

There are 15 workplace outbreaks across the city involving at least 100 cases while child cares account for six outbreaks with 42 affected people.

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Hamilton has 37 total outbreaks in the city as of May 19 involving more than 480 people.

The city’s active cases are still under 1,000 as of Wednesday dropping by 10 day over day to 940.

Read more: 4.5 million doses of Pfizer, Moderna vaccines coming to Canada this week

There are 101 patients with COVID-19 in Hamilton hospitals as of May 19. Hamilton Health Sciences says they have 66 patients, with 30 in intensive care units (ICU) and St. Joe’s 35 patients, with 26 of those in an ICU.

St. Joe’s says its normal ICU occupancy rate is now at 140 per cent as of Wednesday, while HHS facilities are at 117 per cent.

The city’s reproductive number is below 1.0 as of Wednesday at 0.82, which suggests the spread of the virus within the community has been contained.

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The seven-day moving average of cases was at 111, last reported on May 17.

The percentage of Hamilton tests returning from Ontario labs as positive for COVID-19 is 7.5 per cent as of Wednesday which is slightly above the province’s last reported daily number, which was at 5.2 per cent as of May 19.

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