|OSHAWA - The current government needs to act quickly to provide more vaccines and help for people in Oshawa living in areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates that are quickly emerging as hotspots, said MPP Jennifer French in her member's statement to the legislature and in the following open letter to the Minister of Health:
May 19, 2021
Minister of Health, The Hon. Christine Elliott
College Park 5th Floor
777 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M7A 2J3
Across communities, neighbours, workers and families are concerned about access to vaccines. With so much confusion and ever-changing information, people are struggling to navigate the system. My office is glad to do the work of supporting community members – especially aging Ontarians – to help them register for an appointment. As I know you well appreciate, those who are eligible for appointments may not be able to get a vaccine due to challenges of supply and often challenges with distribution.
I want to commend Durham Region Health Department for their efforts to immunize people across the Durham Region. When you and the Province announced hot spots, many communities were surprised by how many high-needs communities were not included. Durham Region Health Department recently deemed the L1L area of North Oshawa to be a local hot spot. While I am glad there is a strategy to zero in on areas of need and get more people immunized, I am very concerned that there are no additional resources or funding from the province to support local vaccine initiatives.
Further, based on a number of concerning factors, South Oshawa and other Oshawa neighbourhoods also need to be prioritized for vaccine access, education, transportation to vaccine clinics, and resources as identified by our Health Department and partner agencies. These are vulnerable neighbourhoods and local areas that warrant prioritization, and I am requesting that you work with Durham Region Health Department to support these areas as they are clearly emerging as hot spots. As identified by DRHD, L1L has the lowest vaccination rates in Durham Region, and very high rates of transmission. Other Oshawa neighbourhoods also have very low uptake of first-dose vaccines, and increasing COVID rates. During the 3rd wave, positive cases in Oshawa have increased quickly.
Communities at risk need access to vaccines. Please work with our community to ensure that folks and families get the protection they need to keep everyone safe and healthy. I look forward to your response.
Dr. Robert Kyle, Commissioner & Medical Officer of Health, Durham Region Health Department
John Henry, Regional Chair of Durham Region
Dan Carter, Mayor of the City of Oshawa
France Gélinas, Official Opposition Critic for Health