‘A senicide’: Strategic missteps, logistical hurdles plague Ontario’s early vaccine rollout

‘A senicide’: Strategic missteps, logistical hurdles plague Ontario’s early vaccine rollout
Kristin Hunter wept when she heard the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine had arrived in Canada in mid-December.

“I was so excited that it was possible that the people that I loved, my dad in particular with his health issues, may make it through this pandemic,” said Hunter, whose 65-year-old father has dementia and lives in a retirement residence just outside of London, Ont.

Middlesex Terrace, a 105-bed facility, has seen 37 staff members and 25 residents become infected with COVID-19 amid an ongoing outbreak as of Jan. 22. Another 12 residents have died from the virus.

When Hunter learned that her father was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Jan. 8, 2021, tears of frustration filled her eyes again.

“These are people’s lives and they matter,” she said.

“My dad would probably say that ‘this isn’t right, that this is unfair. And this was preventable.’”


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Just over a month into the country’s battle to vaccinate against the novel coronavirus, Canada has given first doses to 1.96 per cent of the population, as of Jan. 22. Canada lags behind Israel, the United Kingdom, Denmark and the United States among others in the race to get the first shots into arms, especially those in long-term care homes, which have accounted for the majority of the country’s nearly 19,000 deaths.


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Of the 939,050 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that Ottawa has delivered to the provinces, 81 per cent of doses have been administered as of Jan. 22, according to federal and provincial health data. Just under 20 per cent of the life-saving vaccines are still sitting in freezers waiting to be administered.

In Ontario, the early weeks of the province’s sluggish vaccination effort have been criticized by health-care experts, including front-line workers, as being marred by strategic missteps, a decision to prioritize hospitals over long-term care homes, and a rollout that allowed non-essential workers to get a first dose of the vaccine before some nurses and doctors.

For Dr. Samir Sinha, the director of geriatrics at Toronto’s Mount Sinai hospital and the University Health Network, the results have been catastrophic.
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