April – Letter to the Editor, Examiner
Written by Comms Team, April 16, 2021
April 12, 2021
Re: Peterborough editorial: The needle and the immunity done, April 10, 2021
I believe you may have been a little too quick to judge our City Mayor and County Warden in their justification for advocacy on behalf of Peterborough’s residents and access to the COVID-19 vaccines. While we have a great deal to be proud of, with 22.1% or 31,430 of our total population having received at least one dose by April 5th, we can’t forget that a significant proportion of those already immunized are health care workers. With a regional hospital located within our boundaries, it should not be surprising that included in that 22.1% are 8,864 healthcare workers (including long term care and retirement home staff), many of whom make Peterborough their home.
Rather than using the 22.1% as an argument for vaccine plenty, I think it’s more helpful to focus on the total number of community residents who are 60 years of age and over who we know are at increased risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. According to our calculations, we have 47,222 adults who are 60 years of age or older living in Peterborough City and County. This estimate does not include the populations of Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations. It also does not include the at-risk group who are younger, but who suffer from diseases and chronic conditions that elevate their risk – we have been told by the province that we should begin immunizing them this month as well. Oh, and last week, the Special Education teachers were also added to our lists. By the way, neither group has come with any additional vaccine allotments from the province.
When the province opened the bookings to persons aged 60 to 69 years last week, 32% of the 22,051 Peterborough residents in that age category had been immunized, due mostly to the efforts of our primary care providers who administered over 4,500 doses as part of an AstraZeneca pilot. But even with that head start, Peterborough has only enough vaccine at the moment to provide close to 11,000 appointments to the end of the month, which falls short of the number needed to immunize everyone aged 60 years and over by at least 12,000 doses. That’s the shortfall we are facing if indeed we wish to protect everyone 60 years and over by the end of April.
By advocating for a “fair share” for Peterborough, no one is negating the fact that Ontario must prioritize putting out the fires that are burning in those “hot spots” located in the high-incidence urban centres. This is consistent with our unwavering support to allow those areas to get vaccine first, in December, while our long-term care residents patiently waited till the end of January for theirs. But we’ve been hard hit by the variants of concern and risk of transmission has never been higher in our community. It wouldn’t take a lot of vaccine to make sure the highest risk residents of communities like ours get the protection we want to provide them with.
Dr. Rosana Salvaterra
Medical Officer of Health