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‘Please don’t give up,’ Toronto’s public health chief tells people scrambling to get second-dose vaccine appointments
June 17, 2021
David Rider

Toronto’s COVID-19 spread keeps going down, down, down -- but city officials want more, more, more vaccine to maintain momentum and end the pandemic.

“Please don’t give up,” Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s public health chief, urged the many people scrambling for vaccination appointments -- some online, others lining up for hours, calling pharmacies or driving to nab open spots in nearby cities.

“I have asked the province every day -- can we get more vaccine?” de Villa told reporters at a Wednesday online pandemic briefing.

Vaccines are flowing into Toronto more than ever. But it’s not yet enough to meet surging second-dose demand and fully supply city and hospital clinics, plus the mobile and hot-spot operations visiting the hardest-hit neighbourhoods.

“Make no mistake,” said Mayor John Tory, “we could use more supply.”

Next week, Toronto will get 162,630 doses of Pfizer plus 101,000 doses of Moderna, a similar mRNA vaccine, but not authorized for children aged 12 to 17.

Most doses will go to hospital and health agencies for their clinics and outreach into hot spots. The rest will go into arms at the nine city-run clinics.

Communities with hot spots, including Toronto and Peel, are urging Premier Doug Ford’s government to give them extra vaccine to aim at the hardest hit neighbourhoods.

While vaccine demand remains high, so does the threat from the highly contagious Delta variant that de Villa said recently accounted for one-third of Toronto COVID-19 infections tested for their origin.

Toronto needs to get as many people fully vaccinated as quickly as possible to thwart the variant, she said, noting Britain -- where Delta has become the dominant strain -- is seeing a surge in cases and delaying reopening plans.

In places with a lot of fully vaccinated people, de Villa noted, “Delta doesn’t appear to be a huge threat.”

About 75 per cent of Toronto adults have received a first vaccine dose. Toronto hit 20 per cent of adults fully vaccinated Tuesday, a number expected to quickly rise.

Infections, meanwhile, continue to plummet from the mid-April pandemic peak.

Last Saturday, Toronto’s seven-day average for daily new infections was 96 -- the first time it has been below 100 since Sept. 15. Toronto’s peak saw an average of 1,320 new cases per day.