The Ottawa area's weekly COVID-19 vaccination checkup: Dec. 23

·8 min read
Drivers line up during a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ont., last Saturday. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Drivers line up during a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ont., last Saturday. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press
Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press

Highlights:

  • All Ontario adults are able and encouraged to get a third dose.

  • Local health units don't all have the resources to do that.

  • Quebec opts for a smaller third dose age expansion.

  • There's a Pfizer-BioNTech shipment delay in some areas.

Every Thursday, CBC Ottawa brings you this roundup of COVID-19 vaccination developments throughout the region. You can find more information through links at the bottom of the page.

There have been more than 4.1 million doses administered in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region, more than 180,000 of them in the last week as the pace significantly picks back up to levels last seen in the second half of July.

This checkup is going on hiatus for the holidays after this edition.

Provincial picture

The fast-spreading Omicron variant hitting during the holidays has pressed people and governments into action on several fronts, including rules, testing and the focus of these weekly updates, the vaccine campaign.

After lowering the general age range for third doses from people 70 and older to people in their 50s and 60s last Monday, Ontario made more changes.

It cut the general time between a second and third dose in half from 168 to 84 days, allowed people 18 and over to get a third dose under that new timeline at pharmacies as of Friday, and opened provincial clinic appointments to ages 18 to 49 this past Monday.

Many health units can't find staff to keep up with the deluge of demand. Their specific situations and responses are detailed below.

WATCH | Long lines for Ottawa vaccines even before 18+ eligibility:

Quebec has made more strict rule changes than Ontario and has lowered its general third dose age to 65. It drops to 60 on Monday.

Eighty-nine per cent of Quebec residents age five and up have had at least one dose and 81 per cent are fully vaccinated.

About 86 per cent of Ontario residents born in 2016 and earlier have at least one vaccine dose, while about 81 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Moderna said preliminary lab tests showed the half-dose booster shot increased by 37 times the level of so-called neutralizing antibodies able to fight Omicron. A full-dose booster triggered an 83-fold jump in antibody levels, although with an increase in the usual side-effects.

Ottawa

Ottawa Public Health doesn't have enough trained people to give vaccines to the hundreds of thousands of residents that have recently become eligible, and asks residents for patience.

"It has been especially challenging to recruit a significant number of immunizers in short order," wrote the city's emergency services general manager in a weekend memo.

It's releasing batches of appointments when it can, including at a new EY Centre clinic, and has stopped offering walk-in vaccines for third doses.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press
Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

The last after-school drop-in clinics for younger children on OPH's schedule are Thursday at École élémentaire catholique Laurier-Carrière, Elmdale Public School and West Carleton Secondary School. Third doses aren't available here.

Isolation guidance has changed, regardless of vaccination status.

The capital still has regular and pop-up clinics for anyone eligible to get a first, second or third dose, as well as neighbourhood vaccine hubs, and it's bringing mobile vaccine clinics to workplaces who request it.

About 1.9 million doses have now been given to Ottawa residents.

Of the city's total population of just over one million, 85 per cent of residents have had at least one dose, including 89 per cent of residents born in 2016 or earlier.

Seventy-eight per cent of the total population is fully vaccinated, as are 82 per cent of the population age five and older.

More than 190,000 residents have had a third dose.

Ottawa Public Health
Ottawa Public Health

Western Quebec

CISSSO continues to list recurring, mobile and pop-up clinics online. People are urged to make an appointment through the online system, but there are a few walk-in options for first, second and third doses over the holidays.

The Outaouais has distributed nearly 666,000 doses — combined first, second and third — among a population of about 386,000.

Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington

It and three other health units below say there's been a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipment delay and it has to save its Pfizer doses for people age 12 to 29 to follow the province's recommendations.

Older people may be offered a Moderna vaccine. The disruption doesn't affect the pediatric Pfizer vaccine for chidren ages five to 11.

The health unit is offering shots to younger kids and third doses at three main clinics by appointment only, with walk-ins for other kinds of shots on some days.

WATCH | The load vaccinations have put on some pharmacists:

There are appointment-only clinics for children ages five to 11 at the Napanee Community Health Centre Thursday evening and Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic High School Dec. 30.

It shares the latest vaccination information online and on its social feeds.

About 90 per cent of its population age five and older has at least one vaccine dose and about 83 per cent of that group is fully vaccinated.

The region has had nearly 400,000 vaccine doses — combined first, second and third — given to residents.

More than 52 per cent of the region's approximately 13,000 recently eligible children have been vaccinated. More than 51,000 residents have had a third dose.

Eastern Ontario Health Unit

The EOHU still had hundreds of vaccination slots available in December as of Tuesday night, said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis.

He said Wednesday one of the local challenges is not having the same access to the (now-iced over) pads of arenas the EOHU did in the summer, but it's having success finding doctors and other qualified vaccinators to help give shots next month.

WATCH | Roumeliotis' weekly update:

The health unit isn't allowing walk-in vaccinations to reduce wait times and support distancing, and it is also affected by that Pfizer shipment.

Details for its vaccine clinics are regularly shared on its website and social media. It prefers people try a pharmacy or family doctor for their third dose before a community clinic.

More than 369,000 vaccine doses have been administered, including more than 29,000 third doses.

About 86 per cent of residents five and older are partially vaccinated, including about 37 per cent of its five-to-11 population, and about 80 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Leeds, Grenville and Lanark

LGL in a news release said it's been prioritizing third shots for people older than 50 because they're at the highest risk of severe COVID-19 problems and for recently eligible children who don't have any vaccine protection.

The health unit said it could take until March for it to be able to get everyone eligible a third dose. Its local booking system was designed for a gradual expansion, not this large one. It doesn't use the provincial system.

Those eligible for a third dose are also encouraged to try a pharmacy in this region first to save room in its clinics for those priority groups.

The unit is having to manage its Pfizer supply.

Clinic locations and hours are listed online and on social media; space for walk-ins may open up from time to time and they'll share it online if it does. Otherwise, it's not administering walk-in vaccinations.

There will be clinics for people age five to 25 in Brockville Dec. 29 and Smiths Falls Dec. 30.

The health unit has given more than 338,000 doses to residents, which now includes about 31,000 third doses.

It is seeing 92 per cent of its population age five and up with at least one dose and about 87 per cent of those residents have at least two doses.

About 44 per cent of its children born between 2010 and 2016 have had a first dose.

Hastings Prince Edward

This is the other health unit that's said it's affected by the Pfizer shipment, and another area that's had to make wide changes to its isolation plan because of record case counts.

Appointments in Belleville and Picton are by appointment only. Bancroft's vaccinations are being handled by the local health team.

Other options are listed on the health unit's website.

About 297,000 doses have been administered to this area's residents, including about 26,000 third doses.

Eighty-six per cent of the local population age five and older has had at least has a first dose, including about 4,400 doses for kids age five to 11. Seventy-nine per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.

Renfrew County

The health unit regularly shares clinic information online. It said over the weekend too many people were trying to get a walk-in vaccination.

The Pembroke vaccination clinic is moving to a larger location at 100 Crandall St. starting Thursday. The health unit says it will nearly quadruple its dosing capacity.

Renfrew County's health unit has distributed nearly 167,000 doses as of its last update on Dec. 13.

Ninety per cent of its population above age 12, including military at Garrison Petawawa, have at least a first dose and about 87 per cent are fully vaccinated. Younger children aren't yet included in this data.

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