By ALI RAZA, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
East Toronto Health Partners and Michael Garron Hospital are clearing up the confusion regarding leftover COVID-19 vaccines after it received 60,000 submissions in 30 hours from residents seeking the shot.
On Friday, March 26, the hospital opened an online form allowing eligible individuals to sign up for last-minute vaccinations dependent on leftover doses at the end of the day. The hospital, in partnership with ETHP, is vaccinating residents according to the province’s vaccination plan.
“Despite very rigorous inventory management, there are leftover doses on some days,” MGH program support vice president Wolf Klassen said.
“Leftover doses primarily occur when people do not show up for a booked appointment. To date, efforts to use leftover doses have included finding eligible patients in the hospital and reaching out to community partners to call their eligible clients in,” he added.
In the plan’s Phase 1 (January to March), only residents age 80 years and older, those living or working in long-term care settings, Indigenous adults, and home care recipients were originally for the shot. However, some public health units including in Toronto have lowered the age eligibility to 70 and over.
As Phase 2 approaches in April, adults age 60 to 79, those living in high-risk congregate settings, individuals with high-risk chronic conditions, those unable to work from home, and other at-risk populations are eligible.
The hospital often has a few leftover vaccines at the end of the day, usually around one to five. COVID-19 vaccines have strict storage requirements which means the dose needs to be used within a few hours once taken out of storage.
So the online form was meant to invite eligible residents for vaccinations, based on the leftover doses. Except the form didn’t clarify age or Phase 2 requirements. As a result, the hospital got 60,000 submissions from people of all ages seeking the vaccine.
“On Saturday, March 27 we updated the form to ensure individuals could clearly confirm their eligibility in various groups as a part of Ontario’s Phase 2 vaccination plan,” Klassen said. “At this time we are no longer accepting names for our stand-by list.”
Michael Garron Hospital is one of four locations in East Toronto offering vaccinations by appointment only. The others are Warden Hilltop Community Centre (25 Mendelssohn St.), Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre (870 Queen St. E.) and the newly opened vaccination clinic at the Thorncliffe Park Community Hub at the East York Town Centre (45 Overlea Blvd.)
For more information on COVID-19 vaccinations in East Toronto, please visit https://www.tehn.ca/covid19/covid-19-vaccine
Ali Raza is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.