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Low supplies of vaccine have region falling well short of inoculation targets

Less than three per cent of Waterloo Region residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the rollout largely delayed by limited supplies of the vaccine.

Months into the inoculation campaign, just 15,479 people (2.63 per cent) had received both shots at midweek. Just shy of 99,000 total doses had been administered, representing 14.2 per cent of the populate, well short of Public Health’s goal of vaccinating at least 75 per cent of the population.

With a goal of 10,000 shots per day, the region has yet to hit 4,000, with numbers dropping off in the last week due to shortages of vaccine. Deliveries of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna drugs have fallen short of expectations, said Shirley Hilton, who heads the region’s vaccine distribution task force.

“I am pleased to report that our vaccine projections show a steady supply of Pfizer into the middle of May, however there will not be an increase as we had originally projected in our ramp-up plan. We will continue to vaccinate thousands of residents a day, but not at the levels we were hoping,” she said April 1 at the weekly pandemic briefing.

“The supply of Moderna vaccine destined to arrive in the region was delayed; we did not receive our full allocation. Two-thirds of our immediate supply was delayed, which impacted dosage.”

According to Hilton, the Moderna delay resulted in the cancellation of some appointments last week.

“We advocated to the province requesting assistance to bridge the gap in our shortfall but needed to fall back on our contingency plan to close the Wellesley clinic, cancel approximately 130 appointments and delay mobile and pop-up clinics scheduled to administer the Moderna vaccine,” she said, noting that the province responded by stating it would assist and send the Moderna supply equivalent. 

“We’re incredibly thankful and appreciative to the province for their assistance. We anticipate reopening Wellesley next week, and we’ll continue to move forward with all our plans. Mobile and pop-up clinics receiving a steady and stable supply of Moderna is key in the continuation of our vaccine rollout plan.”

The province also recently announced that the AstraZeneca vaccine would be supplied to some primary care and pharmacies. In Waterloo Region, there are 18 locations that will be administering vaccine. Four locations in Waterloo were announced: Alphamed Pharmacy (460 Albert St.), Carriage Crossing Pharmacy (105 Oak Park Dr., Unit 4), Loblaw Pharmacy (450 Erb St. W.), Sobeys Pharmacy (450 Columbia St. W) and Westmount Place Pharmacy (50 Westmount Rd. N.).

“Primary care locations will be communicated in the near future and a reminder that these vaccines will be administered by appointments made at the specific locations and do not require pre-registration or booking through the regional booking system,” explained Hilton, noting they could be open for booking as early as this week.

Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris has called on his provincial and federal colleagues, requesting more supply for priority groups.

“Every day, I am working with municipal partners and my government colleagues to ensure that local residents receive a fair supply of vaccine and that planning continues to expand its distribution to area pharmacies particularly in rural areas. However, I know that vaccine supply shortages and instability continue to be a challenge. With Ontario facing even more delays from vaccine suppliers, I am imploring our local federal Members of Parliament to work with their government to ensure that this province can get a steady supply of vaccines and avoid any further delays,” he said in a statement.

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