Vaccine distribution hamstrung by low supply, McDonell tells United Counties

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By Nick Seebruch
Vaccine distribution hamstrung by low supply, McDonell tells United Counties
MPP Jim McDonell during a Special Meeting of United Counties of SD&G Council on Wednesday, April 21.

CORNWALL, Ontario – In a Special Meeting of the United Counties of SD&G Council, Stormont, Dundas, South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell was grilled by councillors about the COVID-19 vaccine distribution in the region.

Councillor Allan Armstrong, Deputy Mayor of North Dundas questioned McDonell about the number of pharmacies in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) region when compared to the neighbouring health unit region in Leeds-Grenville-Lanark.

The EOHU region has just six pharmacies giving out the AstraZeneca vaccine, while they neighbouring health unit, which has a smaller population, has 24.

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health with the EOHU stated that he was not happy with how the Ontario Ministry of Health chose to implement the pharmacy program.

“I am extremely upset. I had to beg for three pharmacies at the beginning. We were never given a choice where the pharmacies would be,” he said.

McDonell explained that he was not happy with how the pharmacy program was being rolled out either.

“I was not happy with the roll out, no question. It took two weeks of lobbying (to get pharmacies in Cornwall),” he said. “Those sites were chosen by the Ministry of Health. I was disappointed that they didn’t consult with the medical officer of health.”

The two pharmacies in Cornwall that are authorized to distribute the vaccine do not have any supply. McDonell said that the federal government has been inconsistent in their delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine, and without more vaccine supply, the province will not be able to add more pharmacies to the program.

“Every pharmacy that gives out the flu vaccine is on the list for this program, but it is based on supply,” McDonell said. “My real beef with the federal government . . . is I wish they would just level with us. Just level with us, let us know what is coming in.”

McDonell explained that the federal government had told the province that more vaccine doses should be received by the end of May, but that they had since updated that timeline to the end of the financial quarter, which could mean the end of June.

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