This week Public Health reached an important vaccination milestone – 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered across Niagara, representing approximately 20% of the population. With nearly 450,000 people residing in Niagara, this means our Public Health team has about another 700,000 plus to go in order for everyone to receive their required two doses.  Niagara Health and our Public Health Unit has truly pulled together to make things happen as quickly as possible. It’s nice to see it handled with such professionalism and enthusiasm for the health of our communities. I feel very grateful for our health care workers and the dedication they have shown over the past year. 

What has not gone well over the past few weeks is the Provincial vaccination booking system. The Province opened vaccination appointments up to the 60 plus age group on April 6th to the ire of thousands of residents who then hit a roadblock when they tried to book an appointment. The issue here is that the Province hasn’t ensured that appointments are available prior to making these announcements, which prompts thousands of people go online or call for an appointment. In Niagara this represents an additional 67,000 people.

As a result, the Region has had to scramble to book additional appointments and add clinics after the fact. To date we haven’t a problem filling our appointments, so these announcements have the effect of booking up current openings quite quickly and leaving newly eligible residents with no booking options in Niagara until new appointments are added into the system. Getting new appointments added to the system requires time and collaboration with the Province on booking details. Additionally, we only book appointments for confirmed shipments of the vaccine to ensure cancellations are not necessary.

Long story short, until there is alignment between making announcements and ensuring the availability of appointments, we may continue to experience frustration and ire with the booking system as eligibility opens up. At times it could take a few days to load new appointments so please have patience. I realize it’s frustrating but new appointments will get added. As a reminder, you can also book a vaccination with select pharmacies and doctors may be offering vaccinations soon. There are a few options available.

You can read more about the booking issue via the St. Catharines Standard:
On a separate note, I want to highlight a new service offered by Niagara EMS through new provincial funding, featured in the Voice in the last issue. The Mobile Integrated Health unit is a community-based health care model adopted by EMS that partners paramedics with other health care professionals to provide in-home care needs. These services are available to assist residents who are on a long-term care list or who qualify for long-term care. To participate you will need a referral from the Niagara’s Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). A discussion with the service Manager revealed that aside from providing both proactive and reactive health care support, this team can respond to calls for qualified residents who feel unwell and need help but are reluctant to go to the hospital. It’s encouraging to hear this new program will help support some of our vulnerable and aging residents who want to stay at home as long as they can.

You can read coverage on this issue via The Voice:
On a final note, next week is Pitch in Week in Pelham. Pitch in Week is an opportunity to take the time to pick a road, park or trail to clean up (the Town is offering a sign-up and supplies while available) in advance of Earth Day. As the weather gets warmer and we’re drawn to the outdoors, consider taking a bag and gloves with you to collect strewn items on the side of your path. It’s unfortunate that there are still those who litter our beautiful streets; however, many hands make for light work and it’s a simple way to help keep Pelham the beautiful place we’ve come to love. Count me in!

The Town’s “Team Up to Clean Up” initiative can be found at

As always please reach out with any of your Niagara or Pelham concerns or questions. I’m always happy to assist where I can. And please stay well everyone!