The first five health-care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in Ontario 21 days ago received their second dose on Monday.
On Dec. 14, personal support worker Anita Quidangen was the first person in Ontario to receive the initial dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Lucky Aguila, Derek Thompson, Cecile Lasco, and Collette Cameron followed.
Now, the five, who all work at The Rekai Centre on Sherbourne Street, have received their second dose at Toronto’s University Health Network, completing the vaccination process.
“I feel good. When I got the first vaccine I was so excited. Now that I am done I am more happy,” Quidangen said Monday. “It is for the safety of my residents and my friends and my co-workers.”
At the hospital alongside Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott spoke to reporters following the second doses being administered. She said the province now expects to ramp up the vaccine rollout across the province.
“We have the Pfizer vaccines and now the Moderna vaccines. We are going to start seeing larger quantities come in and we’re ready for it,” she said.
“Everyone that’s administering the vaccines, helping to administer the vaccines, is very anxious. They’re very committed, they want to make sure that we can get as many vaccines into people’s arms as possible.”
Over the weekend, Ontario biostatician Ryan Imgrund criticized the speed at which the government is administering the shots.
Imgrund told CTV News Toronto that “Ontario is not doing too well with the vaccine rollout.”
“When it comes to the number of individuals vaccinated per 100,000 people, we are dead last amongst all of the provinces,” he said. “It's extremely frustrating. We have 78,000 long-term care facility residents here in Ontario. We have 146,000 vaccines and we have had those vaccines for quite some time.”
“It is unacceptable to have vaccines for this long, know that they were coming, know what their storage requirements are and yet still we're sitting on them.”
Imgrund added that officials knew back in September the Pfizer vaccine would be approved first and would have to be stored in an area with a temperature of at least -70 C.
“They should have touched the ground Dec. 21 and before Christmas Day, every single one of those vaccinations should have been used not still sitting in freezers.”
As of Monday evening, the provincial government says 48,920 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Ontario has been administering about 5,000 COVID-19 vaccines a day.
The rollout began with select health-care workers at hospitals across the province, and last week following the approval of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, residents and staff at a few long-term care homes were given the shot.
The Moderna vaccine is easier to transport to long-term care homes as it does not have the same freezer requirements.
Both vaccines require a second dose by provided either 21 days or 28 days after the first shot is administered.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch, who sits on Ontario’s vaccine task force, told CP24 that he expects the vaccine rollout to pickup.
“I think the real test will be the first couple of weeks of January and can we truly protect those who are the most vulnerable?” he said. “There really needs to be a province-wide blitz into long-term care facilities and retirement homes to really protect the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.”
Ford stressed that while the province is making headway with the vaccine, the government is still encouraging people to remain physically distant from others and follow proper health measures.
“It’s absolutely critical. We want to make sure that we lower the numbers, then the curve going downwards," he said” “I’m confident that we will.”