'We need to put this fire out': NDP MPP calls for more vaccines in Waterloo Region
KITCHENER -- NDP MPP Catherine Fife is calling on the province to send more COVID-19 vaccines to Waterloo Region.
Cases have started to rise in the region over the past few days. On Sunday, officials reported 86 new cases of the disease, the highest increase in a month.
Fife spoke during Question Period on Monday, asking for an increased vaccine supply in the region.
Last week, the province identified the region as a Delta variant hot spot. The variant, also known as B.1.617, was first identified in India.
Fife said the region needs help controlling outbreaks and the Delta variant, which requires sending more vaccines.
"Waterloo Region's COVID-19 cases over the weekend were just shy of Toronto's," Fife said during question period. "We need to put this fire out with accelerated vaccines, contact tracing and pop-up vaccinations, removing all barriers to vaccinations. These are urgent concerns, but we are here during an emergency session and we are not addressing the rising case numbers in Waterloo, we are not addressing business support concerns."
Minister of Health Christine Elliott responded to Fife, saying they are aware of variants of concern, including the Delta variant.
"As of June 14, individuals who live in areas of high Delta, who have received their first vaccine before May 9, will be able to receive their second accelerated dose," she said.
Anyone who received AstraZeneca as a first dose can now get a second one eight weeks later.
Local residents can fill out a form on the region's website to ask for an earlier second dose appointment.
Lee Fairclough, president of St. Mary's General Hospital and hospital lead for Waterloo-Wellington said the recent COVID-19 trends in Waterloo Region are concerning.
"We are starting to see the numbers rise to some of the highest that we have seen during wave three and to see that increase so quickly over the last week," she said.
Fairclough said between Friday and Sunday alone, Grand River hospital, St. Mary's General and Cambridge Memorial saw a total of 19 admissions for COVID-19.
"I think we are all a little troubled by the trends we are seeing," she said.
Waterloo Region has been identified as a hotspot for the Delta variant and targeted for accelerated second dose distribution.
"What we are seeing with the delta variant is people are quite symptomatic and seeking out hospital care quite quickly," Fairclough said.
She said if hospitalizations continue to rise, the region will need to call in additional support from neighbouring communities.
Experts say the push to vaccinate quickly needs to continue.
"If there's any slowdown in vaccination, particularly second vaccination, particularly in Kitchener Waterloo, there is the potential for this to generate a lot more cases and move out of those communities and into surrounding areas," said Dr. Gerald Evans, an epidemiologist at Queen's University.