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Ontario criticized for holding back available COVID vaccine doses

Frank Augstein / Associated Press
A healthcare worker examines a vial of COVID-19 vaccine.

The Ontario government is taking criticism for the slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. It comes as the province surpasses 200,000 total cases of the coronavirus.

Health experts and other critics continue their attacks on the government of premier Doug Ford, which has already taken repeated criticism for pausing the vaccination process for two days over the Christmas holidays. As for the vaccine rollout, Ontario is last in the country on a per capita basis.

“There have been organizational and statistical hurdles, but quite frankly, therre’s no excuse now,” said Dr. Isaac Boguch, an infectious disease specialist.
This week, the head of Ontario’s Vaccine Task Force, Ret. Gen. Rick Hillier, said the speed of the rollout has more to do with supply chains. Some 50,000 people have received the vaccine, but Hillier said about 35,000 doses were kept back, because the vaccine must be given in two doses.
“We wanted to ensure that we would have a second dose available when day 21 started rolling around,” he said.

Jane Philpot is a former federal health minister who is now dean of health sciences at Queen’s University.
“We need to empty those freezers and get those doses into people’s arms as quickly as possible,” Philpot said.
Ontario plans to administer more than 50,000 doses at long-term care homes within the next two weeks. One expert estimated 40,000 vaccinations a day are needed to immunize the entire population of Ontario.

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