Two health networks in Toronto say shortages of COVID-19 vaccine are forcing them to limit or close immunization clinics.
Scarborough Health Network says it will be closing its Centennial College and Centenary hospital clinics today.
University Health Network says it has had to pause registration for appointments for adults over 18 who qualify for vaccination based on their postal code.
Both organizations say they will reopen their clinics as soon as they receive more vaccines.
The networks say they are contacting everyone whose vaccination appointment was cancelled by the supply shortage and will rebook appointments as soon as possible.
The clinics run by Scarborough Health Network were vaccinating local residents over the age of 50, all Indigenous adults, and health-care workers.
Canada pre-purchased millions of doses of seven different vaccine types, and Health Canada has approved four so far for the various provincial and territorial rollouts. All the drugs are fully effective in preventing serious illness and death, though some may do more than others to stop any symptomatic illness at all (which is where the efficacy rates cited below come in).
- Also known as: Comirnaty
- Approved on: Dec. 9, 2020
- Efficacy rate: 95 per cent with both doses in patients 16 and older, and 100 per cent in 12- to 15-year-olds
- Traits: Must be stored at -70 C, requiring specialized ultracold freezers. It is a new type of mRNA-based vaccine that gives the body a sample of the virus’s DNA to teach immune systems how to fight it. Health Canada has authorized it for use in people as young as 12.
- Also known as: SpikeVax
- Approved on: Dec. 23, 2020
- Efficacy rate: 94 per cent with both doses in patients 18 and older, and 100 per cent in 12- to 17-year-olds
- Traits: Like Pfizer’s vaccine, this one is mRNA-based, but it can be stored at -20 C. It’s approved for use in Canada for ages 12 and up.
- Also known as: Vaxzevria
- Approved on: Feb. 26, 2021
- Efficacy rate: 62 per cent two weeks after the second dose
- Traits: This comes in two versions approved for Canadian use, the kind made in Europe and the same drug made by a different process in India (where it is called Covishield). The National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s latest guidance is that its okay for people 30 and older to get it if they can’t or don’t want to wait for an mRNA vaccine, but to guard against the risk of a rare blood-clotting disorder, all provinces have stopped giving first doses of AstraZeneca.
- Also known as: Janssen
- Approved on: March 5, 2021
- Efficacy rate: 66 per cent two weeks after the single dose
- Traits: Unlike the other vaccines, this one comes in a single injection. NACI says it should be offered to Canadians 30 and older, but Health Canada paused distribution of the drug for now as it investigates inspection concerns at a Maryland facility where the active ingredient was made.
How many vaccine doses do I get?
All vaccines except Johnson & Johnson’s require two doses, though even for double-dose drugs, research suggests the first shots may give fairly strong protection. This has led health agencies to focus on getting first shots to as many people as possible, then delaying boosters by up to four months. To see how many doses your province or territory has administered so far, check our vaccine tracker for the latest numbers.
Others eligible for the vaccine at the closed Scarborough locations are chronic home care clients, faith leaders, and people over 18 with high-risk health conditions.
Ontario reported 4,156 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and 28 more deaths related to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 1,254 new cases in Toronto, 593 in Peel Region, and 476 in York Region.
The ministry of health says that 642 people are in intensive care.
Ontario says more than 112,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since yesterday’s update.
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