Over the past years I have written a series of columns related to varying levels of access to public services, primarily in healthcare and education, between rural and urban areas of Ontario and Canada. The latest function to fall under scrutiny is COVID-19 vaccinations.
A mid-January report from a major media outlet in eastern Ontario cited concerns across many rural centres within commuting distance of Ottawa connected to information on the arrival time for front line employee vaccines. An emergency room physician in Perth (the town not the county) claimed his municipality deserved better communication on plans for distribution. The predicament is particularly concerning since the local hospital has admitted patients carrying the virus.
The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit which includes the Town of Perth has indicated that health care workers within their boundaries may be asked to travel to Kingston for vaccination, however frustration is rising as urban workers are receiving the dosage while rural communities are waiting.
By mid-January, vaccines for distribution to residents in long-term care facilities arrived in Huron and Perth Counties, however the local medical officer of health noted a serious concern related to their rising case levels. Many staff in these homes received vaccinations in London at a regional hub.
By January 17, the Ontario Government indicated their current objective is to vaccinate all residents by late July or early August – however that target is highly dependent upon securing the necessary volume of vaccines. On that date, Premier Ford and Toronto Mayor John Tory toured the city’s first mass vaccination clinic located at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre which was scheduled to open the next day. The facility will initially vaccinate front line workers and eventually form the delivery model for future efforts. The distance Ontario residents will need to travel for vaccinations is being determined and will reflect the record of this new clinic.
As John Tory and many other public officials across Canada have precisely noted, the vaccination provides hope that the worst is over and an end for the pandemic is in sight. Vaccination is a huge responsibility and if we all cooperate, we can get it done.
Written by Art Sinclair