Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday December 17, 2021
No clinic booster appointments available in Hamilton as Omicron spreads at ‘alarming rate’
Hamilton announced no expansion to COVID vaccine clinics as Premier Doug Ford put out an urgent call for everyone eligible to get their boosters immediately.
No third-dose appointments were available in December for the public on the city’s booking system as of Wednesday at 6 p.m. The only spots left were for health-care workers.
The reality on the ground was an obvious mismatch with Ford’s pleas to those age 50 and older to get their boosters by the end of the weekend — before eligibility opens up Monday to anyone older than 18.
The interval between doses will also shorten at that time to 84 days instead of six months.
“Nothing matters more than getting these third shots into arms,” Ford said. “Locking ourselves down out of this isn’t the solution.”
But so far there’s no sign of a significant ramp up in Hamilton, despite the premier asking businesses to offer up their space and unions to organize clinics at workplaces. He also called on dentists, firefighters, paramedics and the general public to volunteer in the rollout.
“We’re going to ramp it up like you’ve never seen before,” Ford said as he declared boosters the best weapon against the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.
“We’re going to make sure that in every corner of this province there’s going to be someone there to give an Ontarian a booster shot,” he said. “That’s the way out of it.”
Medical officer of health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said Tuesday that public health is considering expanding hours or holding special clinics, with more information expected in the next few days.
Public health didn’t respond to questions from The Spectator on Wednesday about how Hamilton’s rollout will meet the increased demand or what expansion will take place.
Time is of the essence, as Ford described Omicron as moving at an “alarming rate.”
“We are urgently setting back up mass vax sites and hospital clinics,” said Ford. “More and more pharmacies are coming online every single day.”
Richardson said Tuesday that Hamilton is seeing “rapid transmission” of Omicron.
The city reported 93 new COVID cases Wednesday — well above the daily average increase of 56. That seven-day average has risen sharply from 25 on Dec. 1.
There were 28 active outbreaks — up from 20 on Tuesday.
“The Omicron variant is the most contagious,” said Ford. “Omicron is now on the verge of becoming the dominant strain of COVID in Ontario — in fact it may already be.” (The Hamilton Spectator)