Province pauses COVID-19 vaccination in Haldimand-Norfolk

·2 min read

Some 6,000 residents in Haldimand-Norfolk will soon get a phone call from the health unit telling them their second shot of the COVID-19 vaccine has been postponed by provincial order.

The health unit has nearly 3,800 doses of the vaccine in freezers, waiting for arms. But the province says second doses — including shots that had been scheduled for this week — must now be halted for up to four months.

That leaves vaccinations essentially paused in Haldimand-Norfolk, since all but a handful of residents in the first priority group — which includes long-term-care residents and staff, front-line health workers, seniors over 80, and Indigenous adults — have already received their first dose, and in some cases their second.

“If you are scheduled for a second dose, please do not contact the health unit about your appointment. You will be contacted about scheduling a new vaccination date,” said health unit spokesperson Matt Terry, who added that the process to reach all 6,000 affected residents “will take time.”

This represents a change in provincial strategy that essentially leaves Haldimand-Norfolk spinning its wheels while other health districts finish giving first doses to their highest-priority residents.

Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medial officer of health, said the change was made “in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply” to ensure the most people can receive the baseline protection offered by the first dose.

Norfolk EMS chief Sarah Page, who is leading Haldimand-Norfolk’s vaccine rollout, said lack of supply was not an issue locally.

In fact, Page said the health unit is receiving a “high level” of vaccine, with 2,200 to 4,700 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 1,200 to 1,500 doses of Moderna arriving each week.

The question now becomes when Page’s team will be allowed to get those doses into residents in the next priority group.

“We’re looking at different avenues to branch out beyond Phase 1, hopefully with permission from the province, and get those vaccinations into our community,” Page said.

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator