WEST CARLETON – A weekend after announcing there would be no further Ottawa Public Health (OPH) COVID-19 vaccination clinics in West Carleton, city staff have had a change of heart, thanks to incessant prodding by Coun. Eli El-Chantiry.
El-Chantiry made the announcement this morning (June 8) although a time and date has not been set for the upcoming clinic although it is expected to be held “in the coming couple of weeks.”
“During our April pop-up clinic, we had 450 people get vaccinated over three days,” El-Chantiry told West Carleton Online this morning. “They were told they didn’t need to book their second appointment; the province will reach out to you. That didn’t happen and they were concerned. I really pushed hard for this.”
El-Chantiry said he had a good chat with Mayor Jim Watson who just yesterday (June 7) sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford about Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccine allotment.
In the letter Watson pointed out to date “615,000 total doses have been administered locally with more than 66 per cent of adults having received one dose.”
“Despite this success…we continue to experience challenges resulting from the rapid escalation of the rollout of eligibilities combined with the lack of corresponding doses from the province,” Watson said. “Further, the demand for appointments at our community clinics remains very high. Although I understand doses are also being distributed to select pharmacies, primary care teams and other channels, community clinics remain the primary and preferred booking option for many residents. The reality in Ottawa is that the remaining appointments available in June are insufficient to meaningfully accommodate those eligible, or soon to be eligible by your government, for an accelerated second dose. I am requesting a strategic allocation of 40,000 COVID-19 vaccines be given to Ottawa as soon as feasible in order to alleviate some of the demand for appointments resulting from accelerated intervals.”
“We don’t have enough vaccines,” El-Chantiry said. “We don’t even have our fair share. That goes for the rural area too. You have to come back, especially to these rural areas.”
El-Chantiry, who is also chair of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee, says he advocates for all the city’s 150,000 rural residents.
During the first rural pop-up clinic rollout, 2,100 residents received their first of two shots. El-Chantiry says the rural residents of Ottawa boast, per capita, the most vaccinated and fewest number of cases.
“We don’t have those high gathering places,” he said. “There isn’t a Walmart in Galetta.”
While the date is still unsure, the clinic is officially confirmed.
“Given the importance of this issue to the residents who participated in the first pop-up I worked with city staff over the last several days to insist that staff have to come up with a solution and honour original commitments OPH made in April to run a second pop-up clinic,” El-Chantiry released in his statement this morning. “I insisted OPH provide the same level of care that my residents received when provided their first dose. I am happy to report that Tony Di Monte, general manager of Emergency and Protective Services has now agreed to coordinate a second pop-up clinic in Ward 5 along with second pop-up clinics in other rural wards.”
Di Monte confirmed the clinic in an email to the councillor.
“After discussion with the medical officer of health (Dr. Vera Etches) she now agrees that this can be done if we have the capacity,” he told the councillor. “I have asked the team to work on an operational plan to return to the rural areas as we had done for the first doses. We have a plan in place and can accomplish this operation logistically. The current issue is we do not have the vaccine supply. Therefore, we are looking at how to get supply to begin this task over the next two weeks. We are committed to following up once we have secured supply to confirm dates.”
El-Chantiry says there will be no appointments for the second clinic but hopes those who attended the first clinic will come to get their second dose if they haven’t already received it. You can still make appointments for vaccinations at West Carleton’s two pharmacies.
The participating pharmacies in West Carleton-March providing vaccines include: