Supply shortages of the Pfizer vaccine are resulting in changes to Niagara’s vaccination plan. We have received provincial direction that, effective immediately, all first doses of vaccine are to be used to vaccinate residents, staff and essential caregivers in long-term care and high-risk retirement homes This is being done to ensure there is sufficient supply to vaccinate these individuals by Feb. 15. As a result, there will be a pause in vaccinating Niagara Health’s staff and physicians.
“It is frustrating that vaccines to Niagara are being reduced again, when we have only just started vaccinating,” said Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Acting Medical Officer of Health and Commissioner of Public Health for the Niagara Region. “We are directing what vaccine we still do have to where it will save the most lives: long-term care and retirement home residents.”
These changes are the result of a significant reduction in Ontario’s supply of vaccine over the next several weeks while Pfizer’s European production facility retools to increase capacity. The provincial government is directing all regions, including Niagara, to prioritize first doses to residents, healthcare workers and essential caregivers in long-term care and high-risk retirement homes by Feb. 15 to protect those populations with the highest disease burden.
“The interruption in supply is deeply disappointing and impacts on our plans to continue vaccinating Niagara Health staff and physicians who are on the front line against COVID-19,” said Lynn Guerriero, President and Interim CEO for Niagara Health. “We recognize the need to protect our community’s most vulnerable and fully support the provincial government’s prioritization of those most at risk in our long-term care and high-risk retirement homes. As soon as we have available supply, we will quickly ramp up our efforts to vaccinate as many staff and physicians as possible.”
Niagara’s weekly shipment of Pfizer was delivered today as planned; however the anticipated shipment for the week of January 25 will no longer occur. Based on the provincial supply schedule, Niagara’s Pfizer supply will continue for the weeks of Feb. 1 and Feb. 8. Further supply allotments are expected to continue on a weekly basis and will be confirmed by the provincial government. Thus far, there is no plan for Niagara to receive Moderna vaccine.
The provincial government is adjusting direction on second doses to maximize the number of individuals benefitting from a first dose, as follows:
- Long-term care and high risk retirement home residents, staff and essential caregivers will receive their second dose 21 to 27 days after their first dose.
- All other recipients of the Pfizer vaccine, including hospital staff and physicians, must receive their second dose after 21 days and before 42 days.
“With 53 active outbreaks of the virus in the region and 81 COVID-positive patients receiving care in hospital today, as well 252.1 cases per week per 100,000 population and a positivity rate of 7.6 per cent, COVID activity in Niagara is serious, and we’ll continue our advocacy for more supply of both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines,” added Ms. Guerriero.