Vaccine supply is 'much smaller' than number of people becoming eligible
The province has opened up vaccine bookings Tuesday to anyone 18 and over, but Niagara's chief medical officer of health says there might be a wait for some people.
Booking availability is dependent on vaccine supply, Dr. Mustafa Hirji told a news conference Monday. He said there won't be enough appointments available for the number of people who have become eligible overnight.
People need to know they might not be able to book an appointment soon as bookings likely will fill up quickly, he said.
“As it stands right now, we don't even have confirmed shipments of our vaccines for much later, so we only have appointments into the early part of June.” He hopes there will be more information about more clinic appointments “in the near future.”
Anyone who can't book should be vigilant and keep checking, as there are no plans to create bookings until there's a guarantee vaccine will be available, he said.
The 18 to 39 age group consists of about 120,000 people in Niagara, he said, but the region will only be getting about 20,000 vaccines in the next couple of weeks.
With people 12 to 17 to become eligible on May 31, the total is closer to 160,000 people.
“If you look at how many vaccines we've done, it's about a bit under 230,000 In Niagara so far. So this is a huge additional group of people who are going to be eligible to be vaccinated,” Hirji said.
With just 20,000 vaccine doses on their way, “You can see our supply of vaccine is much smaller than the number of people (that have) become eligible to book for vaccinations.”
He said with so many people eligible, it will be about eight weeks minimum until those people can get vaccines.
He maintains that once about 75 per cent of adults are vaccinated, things will start to open up again.
“We'll get to a stage where when we reopen, our hospitalizations don't really spike up,” he said.
As of Monday about 55 per cent of Niagara adults had been vaccinated. Hirji expects to reach the 75 per cent target by mid-June.
“By this summer, once we get to 75 per cent of people vaccined, there'll be an opportunity for restrictions to lift, and we'll be able to start doing small outdoor gatherings with friends and family, really starting to widen our social networks from just our household to be around other people,” he said.
“We'll still need to keep up with physical distancing, we'll need to be wearing masks in public, we'll need to avoid crowds, but we'll be able to start to normalize some of these outdoor activities where we're with small groups and I think that'll be something really welcome for everybody.”
He said indoor events could start resuming by fall, when 75 per cent of people have had two doses.
“Just in time for when the weather is starting to turn worse and you can't do those things outdoors, we'll be able to start doing them indoors.”