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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Op-ed: Ford had 10 months to plan vaccine rollout
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Wayne Gates
Special to The Lake Report

Anyone following COVID-19 knows this virus is particularly vicious for those in the senior age bracket. This is why we’ve taken measures to try to prevent community spread through the younger generations.

The ability of this virus to spread in those without symptoms makes it particularly nefarious. This means kids who get the virus at school may not even feel sick before seeing their grandparents and transmitting it to them with potentially deadly effect. Given this, we see no valid argument against vaccinating areas with high concentrations of seniors as a priority.

Here in the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, one in four residents is over the age of 65. In the Niagara region, we have the third-highest population of seniors in the country. We are an at-risk community if COVID-19 spirals out of control here.

As we work night and day to stop outbreaks at NOTL care homes, this danger is real. The good news is this can and will be stopped when we can vaccinate our seniors. There should be no delay in achieving this.

This is why the news that shipments of the life-saving Moderna vaccine were diverted away from Niagara is perplexing at best and downright deadly at worst.

Premier Doug Ford has had 10 months to prepare for this vaccination campaign. Ontario should have developed a system to immediately move vaccines into communities at risk.

Instead, we hear stories of vaccinations being halted over the holidays, much to the dismay of anyone whose livelihood depends on the end of this pandemic. Simply put, there can be no excuse for these delays and mishaps and every day lost is a day more lives are at risk.

As the opposition, we dutifully fulfilled our role and raised this issue as many times as we could, offering solutions we thought were feasible. The fact that none of these underserviced ridings are of one party tells us that this is not a co-ordinated effort but generally a failure to have a plan ready for when the vaccine came.

This disbelief is not just shared by members of the opposition. Even our local physicians and surgeons have taken the time to raise their voices and demand Niagara gets its fair share of vaccines in a timely manner.

We believe front-line, essential workers should get the vaccine first and that hot spot areas should be given the resources and assistance they desperately need.

However, after having 10 months to prepare for this vaccination campaign every senior in our community should know when they can expect to be inoculated.

Furthermore, our doctors must be heard and we must have our fair share of the vaccines. Any other answer to these problems is an abdication of leadership in these crucial times and leaves people without answers.

The legislature must be recalled and this vaccine rollout must be immediately addressed. Our seniors and our town deserve to know when this pandemic will end for them.