From vaccine shortages to school closures: a timeline of Ontario’s vaccine delays

Bruce Arthur, of the Telegraph, takes the Ontario government to task over the repeated botching of its rollout of vaccines against mumps, rubella and hepatitis A. Last year, a series of delays with the rollout of the vaccine meant some schools didn’t get all of the vaccines they needed, leaving thousands of children unprotected. Now a new report by the Ontario Public Health Association and the Canadian Paediatric Society states that there’s a backlog of three million of the four million jabs.

One way to put that number: four million doses of vaccine sitting in freezers – and it’s costing $1 a dose to get rid of them.

What’s happening: at a recent meeting in Toronto, the Ontario Public Health Association and the Canadian Paediatric Society reviewed the transition of vaccines. There’s still a backlog of three million of the four million doses. Even the vaccine against mumps is being added to the Ontario public plan, but there are still problems with that particular vaccine. The wait times, now about two months from ordering to vaccination time, seems disproportionate.

Some experts are concerned: one study of vaccination issues that appears to have caught the attention of health authorities suggests there is a “two-second delay” with delivery of immunizations in Ontario compared to the rest of the country, primarily due to the “lack of resources”.

Some school boards that provide vaccines have scrambled to address the issue: some have doubled up their vaccinations; others provide them in a morning drop off. Some schools have been asking parents if they want their children to receive three vaccine doses; others have sent letters asking if parents want their children vaccinated.

Any sign of off the wall suggestions to the Ontario government? How about offering up a little constructive advice? If health authorities really want to avoid continuing disruptions to vaccines, here are a few ideas:

1. Make sure all parties involved know that delaying vaccines is dangerous and that each person should be vaccinated before their 21st birthday.

2. Give parents more time to prepare for a vaccination.

3. Create more incentives to participate in the vaccine series. It might mean an extra money for the school board, or better options for filling unused time slots when parents have previously offered to do school sports.

4. Move everything back a week: with only five weeks between vaccination and May 10, when immunization for the general population has to be done, the health department should have more than enough time to get supplies to schools by mid-April.

Leave a Comment