‘Check back daily’; Hamilton details COVID-19 vaccination program updates after 4th-dose expansion


Published July 13, 2022 at 4:20 pm

The public health unit in Hamilton is advising that demand for a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine could exceed the supply, in the short run.

Starting tomorrow (July 14) at 8 a.m., all adults in Ontario can book an appointment for a fourth jab if it has been five months since they got triple-vaxxed or if they have had COVID-19 in the past three months. The Ontario government’s top medical official, Dr. Kieran Moore, made the announcement this morning that all adults aged 18 to 59 can now get their fourth dose. Neighbouring Quebec began doing so 10 weeks ago.

In response to the province’s announcement, the city noted that both Hamilton Public Health Services and the Hamilton healthcare networks are “under significant pressure.” Having the equivalent of a city the size of Kingston, Ont., become eligible will further stretch local health systems.

“Hamilton Public Health Services anticipates demand could be higher than available capacity for those booking an appointment for a fourth dose,” a city release reads. “Due to a high volume of newly-eligible individuals – in upwards of 160,000 – community members should check back daily for available appointments. Appointments can be booked 14 days in advance, with new appointment dates being added daily.”

The city adds that local capacity will “remain at a sustainable level in the coming months.”

Many hospitals across Ontario are having significantly long emergency room wait times. Five months ago, Hamilton Health Sciences president and CEO Rob MacIsaac also cautioned that city will face “a long, and lasting, COVID hangover.” That appeared to be a reference to necessary medical care being delayed, which could hurt many people’s overall health.

The outlets to get a fourth dose in Hamilton include:

  • Hamilton Public Health Services’ Mountain Vaccine Clinic at LimeRidge Mall, which will increase capacity up to 250 doses per day from the current 160 per day capacity.
  • One hundred and thirty-three neighbourhood pharmacies that are offering COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Hamilton Public Health Services mobile pop-up vaccination clinics will continue to have capacity to administer 100 doses per clinic, per day.
  • Ontario Ministry of Health GO-VAXX bus clinics will maintain capacity of up to 150 doses per day, as available in Hamilton.

Hamilton currently has a positivity rate of 15.8 per cent. That is twice as high as it was three weeks ago. The city emphasized negative trends with COVID-19 monitoring indicators trending ominously in Hamilton demonstrate that the virus has not gone away.

“It is important for Hamiltonians to be mindful that COVID-19 is still present in the community and increasing trends in cases and wastewater signal data indicate that transmission is increasing across Ontario and here in Hamilton,” the city says. “Individual public health measures are most effective when layered together amongst other actions that individuals and organizations can take to protect themselves and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Hamiltonians are encouraged to consider their own risk factors and those with who they love or spend time with, their risk tolerance and the setting they are in when it comes to protecting themselves from COVID-19.”

The province considers two doses of vaccine tantamount to being fully vaccinated. The city says anyone with at least one underlying health condition, such as heart disease or cancer, should receive a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. It is also a way to protect family members are friends who are vulnerable due to health and/or age. On the latter count, children under 5 years old are not yet eligible for a dose.

“Expanding second booster dose eligibility will ensure that community members can make an informed decision based on their and their loved ones’ personal circumstances,” the city said.

Around 55.5 per cent of Hamilton residents who were eligible for a third dose opted to receive one. More than one-third of the 60-and-over population, an estimated 36.5 per cent, have received a fourth dose.

The public health unit’s online vaccine booking system can be accessed at hamilton.ca/GetYourVaccine.

Individuals between ages 5 and 29 will be offered Pfizer. Anyone who is at least 30 will be offered a choice of Moderna or Pfizer.

The city also notes that a “new bivalent COVID-19 vaccine” is likely to be approved by Health Canada this fall. It might offer more targeted protection against the Omicron variants of the virus.

insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising