‘We could use more doses, thousands more’: Gen. Hillier says Ontario will soon run out of vaccines

After a slow start to the vaccine roll out program, Ontario’s vaccine task force now says it will soon run out of doses if allocations for the province do not increase in short order.


After a slow start to the vaccine roll out program, Ontario’s vaccine task force now says it will soon run out of doses if allocations for the province do not increase in short order.

In a task force meeting on Tuesday, Gen. Rick Hillier said over 10,000 people are being vaccinated in Ontario daily, with a focus on long term care workers and residents.

So far more than 50,000 people have been vaccinated across the province, almost exclusively with the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine.

He explained that around 35,000 doses from the initial shipment of 95,000 were held back to ensure a second dose would be available to those vaccinated 21 days after the first.

The second round of shots began being administered on Monday and any excess Pfizer doses are being carefully moved for use in long term care homes Wednesday, as the pharma giant recently relaxed regulations on transporting the vaccine. Hillier said that supply will be exhausted by the weekend.

Another shipment of 47,000 Pfizer vaccines is expected by Wednesday and at the rate vaccinations are taking place, that shipment will run out by the end of the following week, Hillier added.

“We still do not know when the shipment [of Pfizer vaccines] that was predicted for next week will arrive,” said Hillier.

Premier Doug Ford urged the federal government to increase vaccine supply to the province.

“Our message to the federal government  — just keep these vaccines coming,” he said.

Ford admitted there were “bumps in the road” as Ontario lags behind other provinces in terms of vaccination numbers per capita, but says he is confident the province will emerge a leader in this race.

“It might take us a week, maybe a couple of weeks to ramp up, but once we get the machine going in Ontario, we kick butt anywhere in the country,” he said. “Once we put team Ontario behind it, we become the leaders and we will become the leaders in North America.”

In addition to the Pfizer vaccine, Hillier provided an update on Moderna shipments, saying the initial delivery of 55,000 doses received on Dec. 30 were and are being used in long term care facilities since they can be transported better than Pfizer’s vaccine.

The second shipment of Moderna vaccines is due to arrive next week and will be reserved for the second dose required by long term care home residents.

Hillier said they are also launching vaccination programs in northern, isolated communities including James Bay and Sioux Lookout on Thursday or Friday.  About 10,000 doses from the second Moderna shipment will be used for workers and residents in long term care facilities in those areas.

Earlier in the day, the province announced that residents and workers at long-term care homes in the hot zones of Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and Windsor-Essex will all get the shot by Jan. 21.

“The allocations of vaccines arriving in Ontario … are small and so as the number of people who await their second needle grows on a daily basis, our space to move beyond that is limited in the extreme,” said Hiller, adding that their goal to move beyond southern Ontario is being hampered. “Its going to be extremely difficult to do that and any other part of the mission unless those allocations increase.”

He added that since the vaccine is a two-dose program, the task force’s flexibility to use all the doses delivered is restricted and will continue to be so into March.

“We could use more doses, thousands more,” he said.

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