4,500 vaccine appointments still available in May at Peterborough-area clinics

'The first vaccine you can access remains the best vaccine for you' says Peterborough's medical officer of health

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo: Arne Müseler / www.arne-mueseler.com, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE , via Wikimedia Commons)
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo: Arne Müseler / www.arne-mueseler.com, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons)

High to moderate COVID transmission of COVID-19 in the Peterborough region coupled with still high Ontario-wide case counts has medical officer of health Dr. Rosana Salvaterra urging residents yet to be immunized to “take whatever vaccine you can get.”

“The first vaccine you can access remains the best vaccine for you,” said Dr. Salvaterra during a Peterborough Public Health media briefing held Tuesday (May 4).

Dr. Salvaterra’s directive came during her take on the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now investigating the merits of mixing vaccines.

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“Mixing vaccines isn’t going to speed up the (immunization) timeline,” Dr. Salvaterra said. “The timeline really depends on the availability of all the vaccines coming into the province.”

“With AstraZeneca now being in short supply, I know there a lots of people getting worried, asking ‘Will there be AstraZeneca for me when it’s my turn to get my second dose?’ We believe there will be. The NACI recommendation remains to complete your vaccination with whatever you started with.”

Dr. Salvaterra noted there is “fascinating” research underway into the efficacy of mixing different types of COVID-19 vaccines.

“There are some promising results starting to emerge from this research that shows there may actually be an advantage to mixing and matching — that our immune system can benefit from being nudged in a different way,” she said. “We need to stay tuned and wait for that research to be published.”

This development aside, it doesn’t change the fact that the Peterborough region remains on track to receive substantial deliveries of Pfizer vaccine starting May 17. That will create the potential for at least 1,000 people a day to be immunized with their first shot.

Many people have already had an appointment booked for weeks, but the recent diversion of vaccines to COVID hotspots combined with a shortfall in the amount of vaccine coming to Canada has seen their immunization put on hold.

Dr. Salvaterra said there remains about 4,500 appointments available for the month of May at clinics in the region, but expects those will be booked soon.

Those aged 55 and up can book vaccine appointments now. Dr. Salvaterra noted that’s scheduled to be expanded to 50 and older “likely this Thursday”, to 40 and older the week of May 10, to 30 and older the week of May 10, and to 18 and older come the week of May 24.

“The light is getting brighter at the end of the tunnel but we are still in the midst of a stay-at-home order,” reminded Dr. Salvaterra.

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With the local vaccination appointment call centre having shut down, area residents are directed to phone the provincial call centre at 1-833-943-3900 to book their COVID vaccination appointments when they are in the age group that has become eligible. The line is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days per week.

Eligible residents can also continue to book their appointments online by visiting ontario.ca/bookvaccine.

To date 56,409 people in the Peterborough region have received at least one dose — 52,143 of those Peterborough and area residents and the remainder residents from neighbouring health unit jurisdictions who secured a local appointment.

Meanwhile, the number of people fully immunized with two doses sits at 4,211. Local vaccination numbers are updated Thursdays between 4 and 5 p.m.

As of Monday (May 3) at 4:30 p.m., active cases stood at 75 in Peterborough city and county, Curve Lake and Hiawatha — down seven from what was reported the previous Friday. Since Monday, three new cases have been detected, bringing the total of new cases in May to 19.

Meanwhile, the number of close contacts of positive cases being closely monitored by public health staff continues its drop as of late, now pegged at 193, down 26 from Friday.

There are currently seven active outbreaks in the region, including two in daycare settings, one of those being at Sunshine Daycare on Bensfort Road that, according to Dr. Salvaterra, has seen both staff and children infected.

Also commenting during Friday’s briefing were Peterborough County Warden J. Murray Jones, and Peterborough board of health chair and Selwyn mayor Andy Mitchell.