Lambton politicians frustrated by long wait for first vaccines

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Lambton still expects vaccine to arrive first week of February

Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health says Lambton is still on track to receive the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine the first week of February.

But some politicians are frustrated Lambton seems to be last in line.

Dr. Sudit Ranade updated Lambton County councillors on the plan to roll out the vaccine Wednesday, just one day after the federal government announced one of the main suppliers, Pfizer, would not deliver any vaccine to Canada next week. Ontario was expecting 80,000 doses in that timeframe.

Ranade says Lambton was first expected to get the Pfizer vaccine, but they have been told Lambton will receive the Moderna vaccine instead. Long term care residents will be the first to receive the vaccine and it could happen with in 24 hours of arrival.

The MOH warned councillors once the vaccine does arrive, not to expect mass vaccinations immediately. He describes the process as “crawl, walk and run,” with smaller clinics set up for long term care residents and then small public clinics before large mass vaccinations.

The health unit’s plan indicates the vaccination of the general public likely won’t begin until April.

Ranade added all of the county’s plans rely on the supply of vaccine and when it actually arrives in Lambton.

Some politicians voiced concern that Lambton seems to be on the bottom of the list to get the vaccines even though it has rates of infection which are as high as Windsor and Toronto – COVID-19 hot spots which have been receiving the first of the vaccines.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley cited media reports that Lambton is one of only four health units which has not received vaccine. Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey later clarified there are 14 health units still waiting for vaccines. “Could you explain to us, to the public, why Lambton doesn’t have the vaccine this morning?”

“It’s a good question, I don’t have a very good answer to it, I think it’s a valid question,” Ranade said.

He added the vaccines are distributed by the province and it’s not clear exactly how that is decided. Ranade believes it could have been based on the number of cases communities had in early December. At that time, Lambton had among the lowest rate of infection in the province.

“Are we at the point where we stop waiting for them (to deliver the vaccine on the provincial schedule) and start putting the pressure on them, if not daily then a few times a week,” asked Warden Kevin Marriott.

Ranade says council has a role in advocating for the vaccine, but he isn’t sure whether it would be effective since every community is doing the same.

“We have an expected delivery timeframe of the first week of February and I’m not sure that is going to change things,” he says.

Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey told councillors he has been raising the issue with the decision makers including putting requests in writing to the premier and health minister asking that if the province has extra vaccine it be directed to Lambton County.