York Region health officials call for fair vaccine distribution

All Ontario adults in hot spot communities will qualify to book a COVID-19 vaccine by May 3.

York Region's medical officer of health, Dr. Karim Kurji, is urging the province to provide more doses. "On the week of May 10, we are getting about 50 per cent of that which Peel Region is getting."

The region's top doctor says that just doesn't cut it, not with hot spots identified from Vaughan to Richmond Hill and Markham. "You have to have targeted vaccine interventions in order to bring down the cases faster."

Vaccine clinics are currently working at 60 per cent capacity. Instead of seeing per capita supply increase next month, the region says it will have its vaccine supply slashed by about 30,000 doses a week in mid to late May.

Dr. Kurji says based on York Region's data, the province misidentified hot spot postal codes. "We had to add three more postal codes areas in order to ensure that all of our hot spots were properly addressed."

He says the province is using old data resulting in infections surging across Ontario as vaccines are incorrectly distributed.

In Simcoe Muskoka, Bradford West Gwillimbury remains the region's lone hot spot with an incidence rate of over 400 cases per 100,000 population - an infection rate double and even triple other areas in the region.

"They're trying to follow all the public health measures, but when the activity is so high, it is difficult to bring it down, but it is slowly coming down," says Simcoe Muskoka health unit's associate medical officer of health, Dr. Colin Lee.

The Simcoe Muskoka health unit is planning more vaccination clinics in Bradford and hopes to start booking individuals 18 and older in the coming weeks as infection rates remain high.

Dr. Kurji says a more equitable distribution of vaccines, especially in the southern part of York Region, would be pivotal to ensure hospitalizations and infection rates don't spiral out of control.