Not everyone who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in beginning of the rollout at local pharmacies will be able to take advantage of an opportunity to get their second dose early, according to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU).
The region received a fresh supply of the vaccine this week following a province-wide hiatus on first doses due to a risk of rare but potentially fatal blood-clots associated with the product.
WECHU CEO and Chief Nursing Officer Theresa Marentette said that the region is receiving around 4,500 doses of the product but she estimates there are around 17,000 people who received the shot between March 10 and 19, which is the population currently eligible to receive them.
"We do know that at this time, there won't be enough vaccine for everybody, so it's not a guaranteed dose for everyone, but in time they will get their second dose. Just, this week it will be very limited," she said at the health unit's daily briefing on Wednesday.
The province is allowing people to get second doses at a 10-week interval, instead of the 12 weeks recommended for maximum effectiveness, in order to take advantage of 55,000 doses that are set to expire on May 31.
From that supply, 24 Windsor-Essex pharmacies were given around 50 doses each on Tuesday, less than half of those who participated in the program initially. Once that supply is used, pharmacies will be receiving more doses from a batch set to expire at the end of June.
The health unit anticipates to hear soon from Ministry of Health and Long-term Care on when more supply can be expected, Marentette said, since a total of around 37,000 people have gotten the AstraZeneca shot overall in Windsor-Essex.
2 more COVID-19 deaths
As of Wednesday, there are 13 new cases of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex, and two more people have died after testing positive. They were both women in their 60s who lived in the community as opposed to seniors' residences.
Marentette also provided an update on the health unit's voluntary survey for those who have gotten vaccinated outside of Ontario.
The survey launched earlier this month on the health unit's website to provide a sense of how many people, particularly cross-border workers, have gotten their shots elsewhere, since that data is not captured in Ontario's vaccination database.
So far, 1,882 adults have responded to the survey and 64 per cent were between the ages of 25 and 54. Overall, 89 per cent of respondents have received both required doses, and 37 per cent reported being a health-care worker, Marentette said.
Based on a projection of the region's 2021 population, the number of people who completed the survey represents about 0.4 per cent of all residents.
Overall, 251,275 vaccine doses have been administered to Windsor-Essex residents to date, and 231,271 people, or 67.6 per cent of adults, have had at least one dose.
Wait-list for 2nd doses
WECHU has also launched a new way for seniors to get their second doses at the six mass vaccination clinics throughout the region, but it's not a guarantee.
Eligibility for the health unit's daily wait-list for last-minute appointments has been expanded to those 70 and up who are seeking their second dose.
They must have gotten their first dose of a vaccine before the end of March.
It's the first time that health officials have opened a pathway for a second dose to the general senior population, though some groups including residents of long-term care and retirement homes were previously eligible for second doses before the four-month maximum interval, per provincial guidelines.
Anyone who signs up should be ready to fill an appointment slot if there are no-shows or extra doses that need to be used.
Those 12 and up are also eligible to join the wait-list for a first dose. Residents can call or go online to join the wait-list daily.
297 active cases
Throughout Windsor and Essex County, 297 known COVID-19 cases are considered active. Of those, 159 involve more contagious variants of concern.
Of the new 13 cases announced Wednesday, seven were close contacts of confirmed cases, two cases were community acquired, one was related to an outbreak and three were under investigation.
Twenty-one people who tested positive for COVID-19 were in hospital as of Wednesday, including six in intensive care, and there have been 426 deaths locally since the pandemic began.
There are 11 outbreaks ongoing, including an outbreak at Southwest Detention Centre that has been active since April 23.
There are 10 ongoing outbreaks at workplaces:
One in Kingsville's agriculture sector.
Four in Windsor's health-care and social assistance sector.
One in Lakeshore's health-care and social assistance sector.
Two in Windsor's manufacturing sector.
One in Tecumseh's manufacturing sector.
One in Windsor's food and beverage sector.
Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton
Lambton Public Health reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Forty-eight cases were active overall and 60 people have died from COVID-19 in the region.
The health unit announced it has launched a survey for residents who have been vaccinated out of the province or country.
In Chatham-Kent, public health officials reported one new COVID-19 case, and the number of known active cases has fallen to 20.