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York Region urges province to 'equitably' provide vaccine for COVID-19 hotspots

'The issue is that everybody seems to want more vaccines... Our hotspots are no different than the hotspots in Peel or Toronto,' medical officer of health says
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York Region is urging the province to provide more equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines so it can expand distribution to all 13 of its identified hotspots where the virus is taking a heavy toll.

Regional council passed a motion yesterday requesting the province "ensure consistency and equity in vaccine distribution so York Region residents in all eligible priority groups receive their vaccination in a timeframe consistent with provincial direction."

The motion stated vaccines cannot expand fully to all residents in eligible hotspot priority groups if supplies aren't provided.

The Ontario government has stated that limited vaccine supplies will be focused on the 20 per cent of the province that has 80 per cent of COVID-19 cases, regional spokesperson Patrick Casey said.

"The Ontario government stated they will increase vaccine supply to hotspot areas by 25 per cent, but have not indicated how this will impact York Region," Casey said. 

Due to supply limitations, the public health unit is currently offering vaccines in only five of the region's hotspot communities — four in Vaughan, one in Markham — despite the province identifying by postal code a total of 13 areas where York Region residents are eligible to receive doses in the bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

On Tuesday, April 13, province further expanded vaccination eligibility to individuals aged 18 and over in designated hotspots, starting with residents of Toronto and Peel.

"Unfortunately, York Region has been forced to prioritize five of the identified 13 hotspots and limit eligibility to residents age 45 to 59 and has had to temporarily close vaccination clinics due to a lack of vaccine," the motion states.

“The issue is that everybody seems to want more vaccines. I will certainly be in favour of any resolution that prioritized York Region’s needs,” medical officer of health Dr. Karim Kurji told regional council. “Our hotspots are no different than the hotspots in Peel or Toronto.”

As part of phase 2 of the provincial vaccination strategy, the province identified 114 high-priority communities by postal codes, including the 13 in York Region.

To date, 292,092 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to York Region residents, including: 

  • 42,292 doses to people age 80+, representing 86.3% of residents in this age bracket
  • 28,427 doses to people age 75-79, representing 83.6% of residents in this age bracket
  • 39,629 doses to people age 70-74, representing 74.8% of residents in this age bracket
  • 39,956 doses to people age 65-69, representing 62.4% of residents in this age bracket
  • 31,818 doses to people age 60-64, representing 40.3% of residents in this age bracket
  • 23,845 doses to people age 55-59, representing 25.6% of residents in this age bracket
  • 16,850 doses to people age 50-54, representing 18.3% of residents in this age bracket
  • 14,236 doses to people age 45-49, representing 16.4% of residents in this age bracket

Vaccination numbers include York Region resident getting any vaccine anywhere in Ontario, according to Casey.

Nearly 11,000 of the additional 13,000 appointments that opened yesterday morning were booked by 4:30 p.m. that day, Casey said.

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Debora Kelly

About the Author: Debora Kelly

Debora Kelly is the editor for AuroraToday and NewmarketToday. She is an award-winning journalist and communications professional who is passionate about building strong communities through engagement, advocacy and partnership.
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