Ottawa mayor, Health Minister spar over city's COVID-19 vaccine allocation
OTTAWA -- Disagreements over the quantity of COVID-19 vaccines sent to Ottawa have devolved into a war of words between the city’s mayor and the Ontario government.
Tuesday evening, a spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott wrote “as of end of day Sunday, June 13, Ottawa Public Health had 20,388 doses of Pfizer and 3,180 doses of Moderna in freezers. This is in addition to the 53,820 doses of Pfizer delivered yesterday.”
Mayor Watson was quick to respond, tweeting “we are required to keep one to two day supply in freezers so when our supply is one to two days late from the province we don’t have to cancel thousands of appointments!"
Watson wrote to the premier June 7, asking for an emergency shipment for 40,000 additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines to meet the demand for accelerated second shots. The province had just allowed anyone 70 and older, as well as anyone who had received a first dose of a vaccine on or before April 18 to book an earlier second dose, which city staff had said would require tens of thousands of doses to provide on top of the appointments already booked for June. Many residents reported difficulty in booking earlier shots due to a lack of available appointments.
Health Minister Christine Elliott wrote back to Watson to say that while Ottawa's shipments from the province have been close to the provincial per capital allocation rate, the city has received additional vaccines at times.
"The province manages a small percentage of vaccines to support regions to respond to emerging issues. Ottawa has received an additional 37,760 doses from this allocation, over and above their per capita allocation, since early May," Elliott said.
"Ottawa is set to receive 53,820 Pfizer doses per week over the next month for health unit and hospital partners, with an additional 13,000 weekly Pfizer doses through the pharmacies. Additional allocations of Moderna will also be distributed as we expect that the federal government will provide Ontario with over two million doses of the Moderna vaccines before the end of June."
But speaking with Patricia Boal on the CTV News at Six on Monday evening, Watson said, when he spoke with the premier and the solicitor general Monday morning, he was asked to explain how the city would make use of the extra doses.
"We will send (Ford) a one-pager on how we can use those 40,000 doses that we asked for and get them into arms as quickly as possible and he said he will fight for us, so we'll hold him at his word."
Elliott's letter noted that municipal public health units are responsible for managing and overseeing the administration of vaccines in alignment with the province's immunization plan.
Watson said he wants the province to consider the demands placed on municipalities when they make changes to eligibility requirements.
"We pleaded with them, please don't make these decisions in isolation," Watson said.
According to data from Ottawa Public Health, 98 per cent of the city's vaccine inventory had been administered as of Sunday, but data on how many doses pharmacies have is unavailable.