Ottawa is not receiving its fair share of COVID-19 vaccine doses, mayor says
Health-care worker Thi Nguyen administers Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at a COVID-19 clinic in Ottawa on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
OTTAWA -- Mayor Jim Watson says the city of Ottawa is still not getting its fair share of COVID-19 vaccine doses from the Ontario government, as city staff scramble to secure more doses to accommodate an accelerated second dose timeline.
"We have frustration with the province because they continuously lower the age limits, but they don't give us a corresponding increase in doses so it creates this level of frustration," said Watson in an interview on CTV News at Six with Christina Succi.
Starting Monday, Ottawa residents 70 and older, along with residents who received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine before April 18, will be able to book an earlier second dose appointment.
The city says there are "currently limited appointments" available at community clinics in June to accommodate the shortened interval due to limited vaccine supply.
Watson tells CTV News Ottawa staff are working through the weekend in an attempt to secure more doses for residents.
"As of today, we still don't know if we're going to get extra doses, we've put in requests and our staff are working overtime and working on the weekends to answer that simple question, "Will we have enough doses for the 70 and above group that can register starting on Monday?'" said Watson.
"It is very frustrating, we continue to not receive our fair share – I've raised this with provincial officials time and time again and we'll push that because Ottawa is the second-largest city, we want to make sure that we're getting our fair share of doses."
The Ontario government initially said that starting June 14, residents 70 and older would be eligible to shorten the second-dose interval. On Friday, the province announced the online booking portal would open on Monday at 8 a.m. for residents 70 and older to book an earlier second dose.
In a memo to council on Thursday, general manager of emergency and protective services Anthony Di Monte said the shortened second dose interval for residents 70 and older would add up to 80,000 more people looking for earlier appointments in June, "that are simply not available."
This is the second time the mayor has suggested the Ontario government is not giving Ottawa its fair share of COVID-19 vaccine doses. In March, Watson said, "It's clear by the statistics that Ottawa is not receiving its fair share of doses."
On Saturday, Watson told CTV News Ottawa that Ottawa didn't complain when hot spots Toronto and Peel were receiving a "disproportionately large number" of COVID-19 vaccines earlier this spring.
Now, the mayor says Ottawa needs to make sure its residents are vaccinated as well.
"Just yesterday, Toronto announced they've vaccinated 76 per cent of their residents 18 and over, we're at 66 per cent. I think now is the time to make sure there's a fair distribution of doses across the province, and not just in Toronto and the GTA," said Watson.
According to the Ottawa Public Health dashboard, the city has received 604,790 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The total does not include vaccines delivered to the pharmacies by the Ontario government.
A total of 569,931 Ottawa residents 12 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Toronto Public Health reports the city has received 2,311,561 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. As of Thursday, 2,022,554 people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Canada's largest city.
The Ontario goverment reports 9,834,182 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the province. The Public Health Agency of Canada reports Ontario has received 11,192,235 doses.
Di Monte told CTV News Ottawa on Thursday there have been discussions between the city of Ottawa and the Ontario government to secure more COVID-19 vaccine doses.