Watson calls for 40,000 additional COVID-19 vaccine doses from province
Ottawa mayor Jim Watson says he wants the province to send Ottawa another 40,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to help meet the demand for first and second dose appointments in the city.
In a letter to Premier Doug Ford, Watson said the provincial government's move to rapidly expand eligibility has created challenges for the city's ability to provide appointments for residents who want to be vaccinated.
"The reality in Ottawa is that the remaining appointments available in June are insufficient to meaningfully accommodate those eligible or soon to be eligible by your government, for an accelerated second dose," Watson wrote.
The province expanded eligibility to book earlier second dose appointments at 8 a.m. Monday for anyone 70 or older or for anyone who had received their first dose on or before April 18. The expanded eligibility "overloaded" the provincial system's ability to book appointments for residents of Ottawa Monday morning, according to a memo from the city's vaccination task force.
The mayor also noted that the expanded eligibility appeared to come into effect about 30 minutes before 8 a.m.
Watson has been critical of the amount of vaccines shipped to Ottawa, saying on several occasions, including on the CTV News at Six on Saturday, that the city is not receiving its "fair share" of vaccines.
According to data from Ottawa Public Health, Ottawa has received 604,790 total doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the provincial government, not including doses shipped to pharmacies. Ontario has received 11,192,235 doses of all approved vaccines as of June 3, according to Health Canada, meaning Ottawa has received about 5.4 per cent of Ontario's vaccine inventory before shipments to pharmacies are factored in.
The population of Ottawa is roughly seven per cent of the population of Ontario.
According to OPH, the city and its hospital partners had administered 96 per cent of their available vaccine inventory as of Sunday evening. Appointments are only made available for clinics in Ottawa when the city knows it has supply in hand to accommodate them.
"Ottawa has very low vaccine hesitancy," Watson wrote, "and, as such, I am requesting a strategic allocation of 40,000 COVID-19 vaccines be given to Ottawa as soon as feasible in order to alleviate some of the demand for appointments resulting from accelerated intervals."
Last week, Anthony Di Monte, Ottawa's general manager of emergency and protective services, said the shortened second dose interval for residents 70 and older would add up to 80,000 more people looking for earlier appointments in June.
In a PSA Monday afternoon, the city urged residents who were unable to book appointments Monday morning using the provincial system to keep trying, as appointments may become available due to cancellations or changes in scheduling.