The Standard (St. Catharines)

Region opening more spots for public at vaccine clinics

- BILL SAWCHUK Bill Sawchuk is a St. Catharines­based reporter with the Standard. Reach him via email: william. sawchuk@niagaradai­lies.com

Niagara Region Public Health has a simple request for residents: If you are not going to show up at the prescribed time to get “the jab,” please cancel your appointmen­t.

“We had a couple of clinics earlier (last) week where we had quite a few no-shows,” said Dr. Mustafa Hirji, acting medical officer of health. “We tend to have a few no-shows every day for clinics. We get it — sometimes people’s lives get disrupted, or they get a vaccine elsewhere.

“We are asking people that if they can’t come to a clinic, they cancel the appointmen­t. That way, the appointmen­t is open for someone else.”

Saturday, the Niagara Health hospital system announced it had administer­ed their 100,000th dose in Niagara.

About 39 per cent of the population has received its first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Due to a last-minute boost of vaccines, additional spots have been added to some of the public health vaccinatio­n clinics: Port Colborne’s Vale Health and Wellness Centre for May 11 to 14 and Niagara-on-the-lake Community Centre for May 15 and 16.

The public health unit said people with appointmen­ts later in the month can reschedule it to an earlier date.

Hirji said there has been some confusion at local clinics where some people want the Pfizer brand over Moderna.

“The Moderna vaccine is built from the same technology,” Hirji said. “It has the same safety. It is just as effective. They are almost identical. They are the same vaccine.

“If people want Pfizer, they should want Moderna. It is really the same vaccine. It is just from a different company.”

Hirji speculated it might be a case where the Moderna vaccine hasn’t received as much attention in the media.

“People don’t recognize it,” Hirji said. “Pfizer has received a lot more press, and people are more familiar with it.

“There also was some bad news around Moderna shipments getting cancelled and delayed. That may have created some fear, but the important point is that they are really the same vaccine.”

In COVID-19 statistics, there were 95 new cases reported Sunday in the region, while Saturday had 79 new cases. The total active case count is 1,831. Public health did not report any new deaths on the weekend.

Niagara Health reported it had 59 patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

 ?? JULIE JOCSAK TORSTAR FILE PHOTO ?? Dr. Mustafa Hirji says an increase in vaccine shipments has resulted in more dates opening up for inoculatio­ns at public health clinics.
JULIE JOCSAK TORSTAR FILE PHOTO Dr. Mustafa Hirji says an increase in vaccine shipments has resulted in more dates opening up for inoculatio­ns at public health clinics.

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