THUNDER BAY - While the weekly number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in the Thunder Bay District is expected to remain lower than earlier in the month, the decline will only be temporary as vaccine shipments are expected to increase later in May.
According to Dr. Janet DeMille, medical officer of health with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, vaccination clinics are still being planned for in the future and there will be a fairly high number of immunizations taking place this week.
But she added that the supply going forward remains a little uncertain. The district receives weekly doses of the Pfizer vaccine, but the number of shipments of Moderna and AstraZeneca is unclear.
“We hope to see over the month of May that the vaccine will increase,” she said. “There’s a lot of optimism around the availability of Pfizer around the second half of May and June, so they do anticipate a significant amount. There is some uncertainty around the other vaccines and how much is coming to our area.”
Last week the health unit and partnering organizations administered 7,879 first doses, though the overall total was down 621, with 639 fewer people having received a second dose, for a total of 8,410 vaccines given in the district.
To date, 41 per cent of eligible people in the city of Thunder Bay have received a COVID-19 vaccine, and 34.6 of the total district population.
The health unit also recently began a pre-registration survey for essential workers who cannot work from home. The data from the survey will be used to plan future vaccination clinics for essential workers, which will include in group one education staff, childcare workers, and teachers, food manufacturing and distribution workers, and agricultural workers.
Group two will include essential retail workers, manufacturing industry workers, transportation workers, and other infrastructure and resource based workers.
As vaccinations continue, the district is once again seeing declining COVID-19 numbers, with five cases reported on Wednesday and 10 others having resolved, bringing the total active case count to 61.
There are currently eight people admitted to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre with COVID-19 and one in the ICU.
DeMille said public health restrictions like the ongoing lockdown has played an important role in getting the case count under control.
“When you look across the province, the case numbers on a daily basis starting to drop,” she said. “Lockdowns do work in the sense of helping to control COVID and reducing the spread. I think that was a big contributor to our drop back in March and April.”
These restrictions and public health guidelines sparked a protest in the city Tuesday night, led by controversial anti-masker, Chris Sky, who was arrested by Thunder Bay Police.
DeMille said it was really discouraging to see that kind of behaviour in the city.
“I know COVID has cost us a lot here and when we look at what we’ve been through and when we look at the risk to acute care settings and the hospital and what they went through recently, I think it’s a slap in the face that they do that, quite frankly, as a public health professional,” she said. “But I do realize people have their opinions and they are allowed to have their opinions.”
But if numbers continue to improve in the district, there are hopes that restrictions will start to ease and a return to a regional approach to reopening.
This would be particularly important for youth, DeMille said, and she would like to see schools reopen before the end of the school year.
“There are some reviews being done at the provincial level that could help guide those decisions,” she said. “I think if we can keep those case counts low and it declines across the rest of the province, I would like to see them open. I am just having those discussions but there have been no conclusions.”
“I think with the variants of concern being present, I think more information and evidence is being gathered about the school setting and reopening.”