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Chirico says vaccine rollout has been a challenge

'We are inundated on a daily basis with requests from individuals, from groups, from families, that they should be ahead of other people'
20210405 Dr. Jim Chirico 2
File photo courtesy Stu Campaigne/BayToday.

Dr. Jim Chirico admitted the situation with a 22-year-old local man who was missed during the initial Phase One of the vaccine rollout is just an indication of the challenges the Health Unit has getting needles into arms.  

"I certainly understand peoples' frustration and the families' frustration but the simple fact is there is a significant demand for vaccines and we have a very limited supply," Dr. Chirico stated during Thursday's online media conference.  

"I know it is frustrating for everybody but everybody that wants a vaccine will get a vaccine we just must be patient."  

Chirico was responding to the story of Tyler Richardson, a 22-year-old with cerebral palsy and a lung disorder, whose family got him scheduled for vaccination in Sudbury for late April after struggling to get an appointment scheduled locally. 

However, on Thursday afternoon North Bay paramedics had a standby dose of Moderna vaccine that they gave to Tyler Friday night.  

See related: Overlooked resident gets his COVID-19 shot locally

See related: District hits COVID vaccination milestone

Chirico is proud of the Health Unit's efforts but he says it has been tough to keep up with the incredible demand.  

On Thursday, the Health Unit announced it has given at least one COVID-19 vaccination to 25 per cent of the population above 18 years of age. 

"We are inundated on a daily basis with requests from individuals, from groups, from families, that they should be ahead of other people," said Chirico.  

"We recognize in many cases they have very legitimate reasons but we have to follow an ethical framework that is set out by the province and follow that in order. Again, the demand certainly exceeds the supply that we are getting. 

Chirico notes that they continue to advocate for more vaccines for the district. 

"We have to recognize too that this third wave has evolved significantly and that there are significant changes that have occurred recently," he said.  

"The health care system in Southern Ontario is becoming overrun, ICU patients are becoming more ill and requiring ventilation. They are in a situation now where they are having to transfer patients so there are significant hot spots in southern Ontario and vaccine has to be allocated to areas where it is most needed. 

"I understand peoples' frustration but we have to be vigilant and we have to follow protocols that we have in place. Eventually, we will get to them - we have a plan and as the vaccines get rolled out they will get vaccinated." 

Andrea McLellan, Director of COVID-19 vaccine roll-out with the local Health Unit, says they are working hard to prevent other high-risk individuals from falling through the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.  

"We are working on the phases that have been rolled out by the ministry," said McLellan.  

"Currently we have a plan that is being implemented this week to contact all home care recipients who are on the list that we have been provided with to provide them an appointment for vaccination. Our homebound home care patients are currently in the process of getting immunized as part of a partnership with the community paramedics in both North Bay and East/West Parry Sound regions. 

McLellan adds they are also working on a rollout plan that will see other vulnerable populations such as those who are homeless or in shelters so they can also get immunized.   

"We recognize that those are important populations and as Dr. Chirico said, our vaccine supply has not necessarily kept up with the phases that have been rolling out and doing the best we can to get it out to those populations," said McLellan.  

"So there will be more information coming to those individuals and families impacted in those groups."