Mark Clairmont |

SIMCOE MUSKOKA — A steady stream of people coming and going at local

vaccination clinics are showing signs of some public ease after weeks of angst.

Local provincial sites organized by the health unit — in association with primary physicians and paramedics — are doing brisk business.

This as the province shifts its inoculation strategy toward vulnerable essential workers and hot spots amid another emergency stay-at-home order.

A quick visit to the Bracebridge site yesterday showed signs of that.

“No problem” and “easy” were typical of the comments elicited from those exiting the Bracebridge Sportsplex on a sunny morning.

After a rough rollout, booking an appointment via the provincial phone line — or even online — are easing.

Hours on hold have been reduced to minutes.

And if you’re willing to travel a short distance — as many were yesterday — you can get in faster.

Nearby Minden, just an hour east of Muskoka, had many open spots yesterday. It’s in the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pineridge Health Unit.

And increasing supplies of the vaccine arriving daily are opening spaces.

Still, getting jabbed remains a game of chance.

In Simcoe-Muskoka they’re booked until at least April 17, with more spaces coming available in to May, Dr. Charles Gardner, Simcoe Muskoka’s medical officer of health, told media Wednesday.

Nancy and Jim Lynch, of Gravenhurst, get a dash of hand sanitation before going in for their vaccine appointments. She said it only took her two hours to book their initial and follow-up appointments.

That as the province is putting a push on the pandemic response in light of repeated criticism.

“Your life is in jeopardy” if you don’t get the vaccine, Premier Doug Ford said yesterday, adding that 90 per cent of the deaths are among people aged 60+.

That’s why those 60 years of age and older are now eligible to directly book their COVID-19 vaccination at community clinics via as the provincial COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Plan moves into Phase 2.

“The movement into Phase 2 is encouraging and hopeful news for our communities,” said Gardner in a release later.

“The faster people are vaccinated, the sooner our communities will be protected, and the closer we are to bringing the pandemic under control.

He said “expanding immunization into Phase 2 groups follows on the heels of another important milestone – we have now administered more than 100,000 doses of vaccine in Simcoe Muskoka, which includes more than 18,000 individuals who have received both doses of the vaccine.

“It is important to note,” he said “that it is expected that it will take until the end of June to complete this phase, and is dependent on vaccine supply. We appreciate everyone’s ongoing patience as we move through the various groups,” said Gardner.

Other groups are also eligible in this phase, including those in the highest-risk health condition category, followed later by the high-risk category, plus one essential caregiver where eligible. These individuals may be contacted directly by local hospitals and/or primary care providers in order to advise them on the details of how they can receive vaccination.

The highest-risk health condition category includes:

  • Organ transplant recipients
  • Stem cell (Hematopoietic) transplant recipients
  • People with neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised (e.g., motor neuron disease, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis)
  • People with cancers that affect the blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes (Haematological malignancy) diagnosed less than one year ago
  • Kidney disease (defined by eGFR< 30).
  • High-risk health conditions include:
  • Obesity (BMI > 40)
  • Other treatments causing immunosuppression (e.g., chemotherapy)
  • Intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Additionally, adults aged 50 years and older (born in 1971 or earlier) who live in “hot spot” priority communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 will be eligible for vaccination through specific immunization clinics, which will be announced separately. In Simcoe Muskoka, the province has identified the area of Bradford East as a “hot spot” priority community, based on ongoing higher rates of COVID-19 transmission, hospitalization and death.

For more information about the COVID-19 immunization plan, please visit our COVID-19 pages at

Vaccination clinics are open every day across Simcoe-Muskoka if you are willing to travel.


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