By Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller
Wow. A year ago today we were figuring out how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without going to pubs or parties across Ontario. At that time I certainly didn’t imagine we would be staying at home or apart for a full year’s worth of holidays and celebrations.
It has been a very difficult year for everyone. Whether you are a business owner who has had to shut down, an employee who has been laid off, a nurse or personal support worker who has lived in fear of bringing the virus to your patients or home to your family, a senior living in a long-term care home without visits from family, someone who is struggling with the isolation of staying home or worst of all someone who has lost a loved one. I know we have all made sacrifices for the good of our communities and I thank you for yours.
Here in Parry Sound-Muskoka we have been fortunate to avoid the large scale tragedies of outbreaks in long-term care or retirement homes but that doesn’t mean it has been easy here. I understand the frustration that many people feel and I understand why some people are protesting the shutdowns and other public health measures.
However, I and our government will continue to listen to the medical professionals and they are telling us that some public health measures are necessary until the vast majority of people have been vaccinated.
Thankfully we can see that starting to happen. On Monday, almost exactly one year after Ontario declared a state of emergency, our government launched the COVID vaccine registration portal. Admittedly there were a few glitches on the first day. There were long waits. Some people got weird error messages and the locations of some clinics weren’t input before the system went live.
But overall in the first day more than 133,000 Ontarians, 80 years of age and older, got an appointment to be vaccinated. By the end of the day the issue that was causing the error messages had been dealt with and by Tuesday the missing clinic locations in Simcoe Muskoka had been input.
Here are the things you need to know about registering to get a vaccination here in Huntsville.
Right now vaccine appointments can only be booked through the provincial portal for people born in 1941 or earlier. If you fall within this group, visit www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine or call 1-888-999-6488. You will need the numbers from both the front and back of your health card and your postal code. If you have an old red and white health card you will have to book by phone. Otherwise please book online if possible.
When most people over 80 have received their first dose, people 75 to 80 will be eligible to book, then 70 to 75 and so on. We can’t give specific dates for each group until we know we have the vaccines available. The more doses of vaccine we receive, the faster we will open up appointments for younger groups.
Other priority groups including high priority healthcare workers, essential caregivers to a person in long-term care and people receiving chronic homecare in Simcoe Muskoka can pre-register with the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit at www.simcoemuskokahealth.org. People who pre-register will receive an email to explain how and when they can make an appointment, again depending on vaccine supply.
When you do have an appointment, please do not arrive an hour early. Just like we don’t want people gathering in large groups anywhere else, we don’t want large groups gathering around vaccine clinics so plan to arrive just 10 minutes before your appointment or wait in your car until your appointment time.
As of 8 pm on Monday a total of 1,243,132 doses of COVID vaccine have been administered in the province since the first vaccine was approved by Health Canada in December. Of those, 57,073 have been in Simcoe Muskoka. On Monday alone Ontario administered 51,579 doses. So far our province has received 1,631,335 doses of vaccine from the federal government. At our current rate that would only be enough doses for seven days and with more mass vaccination clinics opening up across Ontario we will go through that very quickly.
We are expecting to receive larger shipments of vaccines and as we do, vaccination clinics will be open more hours to administer more vaccines. We know we have lots of demand for vaccines. We know we have ways to deliver those vaccines. We just need more vaccines from the Federal Government.
Unfortunately, despite the progress on vaccinations, this isn’t over yet. The last couple of weeks here in Huntsville have demonstrated that the virus is still out there and we need to continue to be very careful until most people have received a vaccine.
Of the 17 cases that were identified in Huntsville between March 1 and March 10, 12 have recovered and so far we haven’t seen evidence of further spread. Thank you to everyone who followed the instructions from public health to control those outbreaks but please heed this reminder that while we have new weapons, we haven’t won the war yet.
Photo of MPP Norm Miller is courtesy of his office. Queen’s Park photo “June 2012 Ontario Legislature Toronto” by Priscilla Jordão, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!