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Hamilton reports 119 new COVID-19 cases, GTA pharmacies to get Pfizer vaccines

The head of the Ontario Pharmacy Association (OPA) has confirmed that 16 pharmacies in Toronto and Peel region will see the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in a pilot project soon.

OPA CEO Justin Bates told Global News that the project will roll out to high-risk neighborhoods initially to see if locations can handle the sensitivity and logistics of the Pfizer doses which require ultra-cold storage.

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“There will be a limited amount of the Pfizer vaccine for about two weeks as we look at all the distribution, logistics and to make sure we iron out the details before we go broader in two weeks with more supply outside of just those 16 pharmacies,” said Bates.

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Bates says the only vaccine that pharmacies have been distributing so far has been Astra Zeneca, however, Canada’s supply is in question after the coronavirus crisis in India saw shipments suspended amid surging cases in the South Asian country in recent weeks.

Pharmacies were expecting to get some of the 600,000 Astra Zeneca doses that were earmarked for Canada but will now have to wait on the outcome of negotiations with the U.S. which has a stockpile of shots that have not been approved for use in the country.

“It’s important that we do have that supply of AstraZeneca because we need to make sure that all of those that received the first dose get the second dose within that six weeks,” Bates said.

“So even with Pfizer being introduced into community pharmacies, AstraZeneca will need to replenish.”

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Hamilton’s director of epidemiology, wellness and communicable disease control, Michelle Baird, is encouraging residents to keep reaching out to local pharmacies to get on the waitlist despite the AstraZeneca shortages.

“Some are taking waitlists, we know about that,” said Baird. “We also know that they are calling people when appointments become available, whether they be through cancelations or other, so just encourage you to stay in touch with your local pharmacy.”

Baird did not know the latest numbers on how many doses the city’s pharmacies had administered due to update problems with the province’s web data but said it was in the neighbourhood of 20,000 shots.

She estimates that about 32 per cent of the city’s eligible population (aged 16 and up) have received at least a single shot.

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The director said Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout has been “complicated” in that there are a number of groups who are prioritized for shots compared to the first phase which was much more specific in its targets in long term care, retirement homes, health-care workers and those 80 and over.

Phase 2 demographics include congregate care settings, racialized communities and a number of groups who are at highest risk of poor outcomes with respect to health conditions.

“That group in Phase 2 really does make up almost 300,000 people within our Hamilton population,” Baird said. “So there is some confusing, and I will say, complicated messaging with respect to where to look and how.”

As of Monday, public health estimates that 180,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across all platforms in the city.

The bulk of the shots have come from the Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) clinic which has given out more than 66,000 shots.

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St. Joe’s clinic has administered at least 38,000 while about 26,000 came from mobile clinics, 23,000 from the First Ontario site, 20,000 from pharmacies and just over 6,000 from primary care doctors.

Hamilton reports 119 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Hamilton reported 119 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and two more virus-related deaths.

The deaths involved a person in their 60s and another in their 80s. The city has now had 355 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began.

Public health also reported two new outbreaks on Monday at a workplace and a child-care centre.

The outbreak at the YWCA Downtown Hamilton Childcare Centre involves two patrons and a worker while the surge at Kushies baby store in Hamilton involves three staffers.

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There are now 16 workplace outbreaks across the city involving 123 total cases. The largest is at Aryzta/Oakrun Farm Bakery which has 35 staff cases. Hamilton General and National Steel Car all have case counts in the 20s.

As of Tuesday, Hamilton has 39 outbreaks involving 239 total cases. Twenty-six involve the B.1.1.7 mutation, the variant that was first detected in the United Kingdom.

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Of the 4,429 variant cases identified in the city, 2,766 are the B.1.1.7 mutation. There are just three other cases involving other variants that have been detected as of Monday, which include a pair of the B.1.351 mutation (first detected in South Africa) and a single case of the P.1 variant (first detected in Brazil).

The city says there are 1,558 active cases as of April 27.

More than 68 per cent of the city’s active cases are among people under the age of 50. Just over 40 per cent of new cases are among residents under 30.

Around 8.9 per cent of all COVID-19 tests in the city are returning with positive results, down from 9.1 on Monday.

The city’s COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population over seven days continued to drop from 181 as of Monday to 172 as of April 27.

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The reproductive rate in Hamilton is at 1.09, suggesting the virus is still spreading in the community.

As of Tuesday, Hamilton hospitals are treating 157 COVID-19 patients. There are 111 COVID-19 patients at HHS with 44 in ICU. St. Joe’s says it has 46 total patients.

The province says 2,336 people are in hospitals across Ontario with COVID-19, 875 in intensive care units and 589 patients in ICUs on a ventilator.

Ontario’s new COVID-19 cases trended down for the third day in a row with 3,265 reported on Tuesday.

Most public health units reported fewer than 200 new cases in the provincial report, except for Toronto (1044), Peel (673), and York (452).

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