Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo region plans around vaccine supply cuts, launches pop-up clinics in high priority spots

Region of Waterloo Public Health is shifting its vaccine roll-out planning to deal with looming supply challenges. The region’s Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine supply has been unstable with no confirmed shipment beyond May 3, however the region said its Pfizer allocation is increasing throughout the month of May.

Pop-up vaccination clinics in hot spots starting this week

An employee of Apotex pharmaceuticals gets her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile clinic run by Humber River Hospital on Apr. 13, 2021. Meanwhile, Waterloo region is planning on launching pop-up vaccination sites in high priority areas. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Region of Waterloo Public Health is shifting its vaccine roll-out planning to deal with looming supply cuts.

The region's Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine supply has been unstable with no confirmed shipment beyond May 3, however the region said its Pfizer allocation is increasing throughout the month of May.

The region is shifting from a steady state of delivery to operating at maximum capacity, according to Waterloo Regional Police Services deputy chief Shirley Hilton, who is also the lead for the Waterloo Region Vaccine Distribution Task Force

"Our previous planning, we looked at what our allocation was and we spread it across the seven days and in the different clinical settings as well. So what we've decided to do is actually maximize clinics and the hours of operation and use the vaccine until it is exhausted," she said in a Board of Health meeting on Wednesday.

She said this increases efficiency and gets the vaccine out as fast as possible. Clinics that run out may temporarily shut down while waiting for the next shipment of supply.

The region is considering the possibility of communicating with people who have pre-registered and are waiting their turn to let them know that they are still prioritized, as the system opens up to more priority groups

High priority neighbourhood needs

The region said five pop-up clinics are set to launch in high priority neighbourhoods in the region starting this week. High priority neighbourhoods have previously been identified as:

  • Vanier/Rockway (Kitchener).
  • Country Hills (Kitchener).
  • Alpine/Laurentian (Kitchener).
  • Victoria Hills/Cherry Hill (Kitchener).
  • Columbia/Lakeshore (Waterloo).
  • Shades Mills (Cambridge).

These will be in municipal facilities including community centres and an arena. Some people living in those communities will be going door-to-door to encourage people to get vaccinated.

There was a pop-up vaccination clinic at the Gurdwara Temple in Shades Mills. This is a slide from a presentation at the Board of Health meeting on Wednesday. (Board of Health/YouTube)

Most recently, health officials helped set up a pop-up vaccination clinic at the Gurdwara Temple in the Shades Mills neighbourhood. More than 350 doses were administered in two vaccination days. The region is exploring additional pop-ups in Cambridge.

The region is looking at allocating Pfizer vaccine to high priority neighborhoods when other vaccines run out in order to continue that work. 

Racilized communities impacted by COVID

In the meeting, officials presented data collected from nearly 10,000 positive cases reported between July 12, 2020 and March 24 of this year.

It was determined that cases were two to three times higher in people who identified as visible minorities and Black. Positive cases in larger household were 1.5 times higher and two times higher in people with non-official childhood languages. Some common languages include Punjabi, Spanish and Arabic. The data was compared to the 2016 census.

"Part of [this work] is putting in additional supports but part of it too is that supports exist but there's low awareness of those supports and there isn't the trust in being able to access those supports," said Connie MacDonald, the region's chief strategy and communications officer, in the meeting.

"So our work is really focused on building strong, trusting relationships through those that already have those relationships to be able to be able to be more accessible and connect with these communities to connect them with the resources they need."

The region's first analysis back in the fall assessed more than 600 cases. Since then, it's worked to address needs of high priority populations, including the creation of a safe voluntary isolation site, which is currently being utilized by more than 30 people, an all-time high.

The region said it has administered 863 doses to people who are homeless and to staff who support them through mobile immunization teams.

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