Ottawa is not receiving its fair share of COVID-19 vaccine doses, mayor says
OTTAWA -- Mayor Jim Watson is calling on the Ontario government to deliver seven per cent of the COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in this province to Ottawa, saying the capital is being shortchanged on vaccines.
Officials at Ottawa City Hall are highlighting that Ottawa is not getting its fair share of vaccines, based on the population.
Ottawa has approximately seven per cent of the Ontario population, but has only received 5.7 per cent of the overall vaccine supply from the province.
"It's clear by the statistics that Ottawa is not receiving its fair share of doses," said Watson on Friday afternoon.
"I've raised this now with minister (Lisa) MacLeod, and she's undertaken to look into the situation and come up with an answer, and hopefully a solution as quickly as possible."
Watson notes Ottawa has received no doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been distributed to pharmacies in Kingston, Toronto and Windsor-Essex.
"We want to ensure fairness across the province. While we recognize Toronto is a hotspot, we have hotspots within the city of Ottawa," said the mayor.
Of the 2.3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that have arrived in Ottawa, 133,440 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been shipped to Ottawa.
The city of Ottawa received 36,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday. The city expects to receive 44,000 doses next week, and then 25,000 vaccines the weeks of April 5 and April 12.
The COVID-19 vaccine numbers do not include the AstraZeneca vaccine, because Ottawa was not included in the pharmacy vaccine pilot project.
Mayor Watson sent a letter to the Ministry of Health on Wednesday, asking Ottawa be "urgently prioritized" to administer the COVID-19 vaccine through pharmacies.
"It just doesn't seem to make sense that an area like Kingston, that's is in the yellow zone, was given vaccines for their physicians and pharmacies, and we have people now from Ottawa going to Kingston and going to Sharbot Lake to get vaccinated, which is not good from a health point of view," said Watson."
"It's also a fairness aspect. We have hundreds of pharmacies and pharmacists that are able and willing to give the doses to our citizens. So, we're calling on the provincial government to go back and really examine the fairness aspect to ensure that we get seven per cent of the doses, based on the population of our city."
The federal government distributes COVID-19 vaccines to the provinces based on population.
Premier Doug Ford told reporters that Mayor Watson should go to Parliament Hill to ask for more vaccines, noting the federal government is in charge of purchasing the doses.
"I ask all the mayors, all the regions, start calling your federal MPs. Mayor, walk down the street to the Parliament buildings and start banging down the doors. This is the root cause, we do not have enough vaccines from the federal government," said Ford.
"It's a joke."
Ford adds the province will now distribute the COVID-19 doses per capita moving forward.