Province prioritizes 7 COVID-19 'hot spot' postal codes in Windsor-Essex for vaccines

·3 min read
Priority to be placed on certain locations in Windsor-Essex during phase 2 vaccine rollout. A dozen other health units in the province had postal code areas identified too.  (File photo from Joe Raedle/Getty Images - image credit)
Priority to be placed on certain locations in Windsor-Essex during phase 2 vaccine rollout. A dozen other health units in the province had postal code areas identified too. (File photo from Joe Raedle/Getty Images - image credit)

The provincial government has identified seven postal codes in Windsor-Essex as COVID-19 "hot spots" that will be prioritized for phase 2 of Ontario's Vaccine Distribution Plan.

In addition to those pinpointed in Windsor-Essex, the province also highlighted "hot spot" regions in a dozen other health units that will be prioritized for vaccinations.The province said in a news release Tuesday that "hot spot" postal codes are those that have "historic and ongoing" high rates of death, hospitalization and transmission of the disease.

In Windsor-Essex, the identified areas include:

  • N8X, which is South Central Windsor.

  • N8Y, which is Walkerville and East Windsor area.

  • N9A, which is downtown Windsor.

  • N9B, which is Sandwich Towne and University of Windsor area.

  • N9C, which is Sandwich Towne.

  • N8H, which is in Leamington.

  • N9Y, which is in Kingsville.

Phase 2 of the vaccination plan began in April and is expected to run until the end of June. People aged 50 and older in these postal code hot spots are priority to be vaccinated, according to the provincial government.

"Delivering vaccines to people who live in these areas is critical to reducing the impact of COVID-19 as quickly as possible," the provincial government said in a news release.

The Ministry of Health will work with public health units to ensure "timely access" of the vaccines to these communities and use all available mediums, such as pharmacies, mass vaccination clinics and mobile teams, according to the province.

Many of those who will be eligible under the initiative are essential workers, officials said, though they did not say exactly when it will begin.

Calls to shift vaccination strategy

This is happening at the same time calls have been made for the government to shift its vaccination strategy.

Some are asking that the government consider essential roles people fill. Essential workers are listed under phase 2 of the province's vaccination plan, but younger essential workers likely won't have access to shots until, at the earliest, mid-May.

In Sarnia-Lambton, teachers started receiving the vaccine Monday as the region launched into phase 2 of the vaccination strategy. It's one of few regions in the province to start giving the shot to education staff.

"It's just critical because the vaccine is just one part of the solution to making our schools safe but it's a big part of the solution," said Chad Coene, St. Clair Secondary President with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association.

Dave Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444, says he wants essential workers to have the option to get the vaccine as soon as possible.
Dave Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444, says he wants essential workers to have the option to get the vaccine as soon as possible. (Kerri Breen/CBC)

"With the variants of concern we are seeing a lot of community transmission throughout the province and schools are part of the community and so it makes sense that you vaccinate and prioritize the vaccination of frontline essential community workers [as soon as possible]."

Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation district president Erin Roy also said that if schools are to stay open across the province, teachers need to be vaccinated.

"It will make a huge difference, even if we can start to get some vaccinations," Roy said. "We want to be in our schools."

Similar demands are being put forward by president of Unifor Local 444 Dave Cassidy who says he's frustrated with the vaccine rollout and wants to see workers on the frontlines get protected now.

"Let's just allow people to receive the vaccine that need the vaccine or want the vaccine," Cassidy said.

He added that despite all the safety measures in place for people working in manufacturing, people shouldn't have to wait until mid-May.

"People need to start having a choice, whether they want to. Enough of the what the age is," he said.