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Feb. 28, 2021 | Sunday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Serious concerns about how COVID vaccine will be distributed

Dear editor:

First let me add my name to the vast backlash and outcry of condemnation against the idiots who threatened our Niagara medical officer of health Dr. Mustafa Hirji.

I, like thousands of others, was disappointed at the extension to our shutdown, however in my opinion, Hirji was acting in the best interests of the overall community. He was no doubt cognizant of the massive inflow of visitors / tourists from other areas, like Toronto etc.

Addressing the ongoing delays in Canada's vaccination rollout, which is the laughingstock of the world, it appears more and more unlikely that Niagara Region, and in particular NOTL, will be allocated a single supply of the vaccine, to mass vaccinate our community (NOTL with a population of 18,000) over a three- to four-week period.

Accordingly I suspect we will be receiving sporadic shipments over many months, out to year-end or longer, thereby forcing our senior population to be housebound much longer, for fear of contacting a more serious COVID-19 variant. This further increases the local chances of a third or fourth wave and rolling shutdowns.

The following was my proposed template or blueprint for a NOTL rollout:

* A single mass vaccination site, serviced by one  shipment to vaccinate all residents.

*Residents scheduled via a telephone call from our regional medical centres, similar to the U.K.'s practice. No phoning around multiple locations, similar to the flu vaccination fiasco, hoping they have a supply. My wife and I visited six locations before locating a pharmacy in downtown St. Catharines for our flu shot.

* Housebound residents contacted and administered their shot, in their home, via a mobile unit. Again similar to the U.K.

*Involve Shoppers Drug Mart or Amazon in the Canadawide distribution. In the U.K. they partnered with Boots Pharmacy.

* Review the vaccine manufacturer for seniors as all vaccines are not created equal. In a certain age group, I believe 60 and over, the efficacy is much lower and thus less effective. I predict, however, we will not have the luxury to pick and choose.

The U.K. announced this past weekend that all residents over the age of 70 had received their shots. In a previous letter I reported that my family and in- laws in the U.K., all in their 80s, received both shots in early to mid-January. New Zealand has opened up and back to normal, with only three cases have been reported recently, yet Canada fails to replicate that success model.

It looks certain at this juncture that we will be repeating the flu shot debacle. Evidence of this scenario is the fact we are not taking any proactive steps and have yet to officially name a vaccination site or our pharmacy participation.

Nor have we, to my knowledge, commenced a hiring effort (retired nurses or volunteers etc.) to staff the vaccination site in anticipation of the eventual arrival of a shipment.

I tip my hat to Sean Simpson of Simpson's Pharmacy for his personal, proactive efforts to keep ahead of the curve, as he usually does, in the face of numerous delivery uncertainties.

Kudos all around – a  make-it-happen type, my type of guy. Not like Trudeau and Ford, the great procrastinators.

Samuel Young