May 12 COVID-19 Update

On Tuesday, the government of Ontario confirmed that they will halt the distribution of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine due to growing concerns over its link to rare blood clots. Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of Ontario, said the decision to stop offering the AstraZeneca vaccine was “made out of an abundance of caution.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine sparked controversy around the country and the world for its potential link to rare blood clots in patients. Approximately 12 Canadians developed blood clots and three have died as a result of the vaccine.

Up until the announcement, first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were being offered to those 40 years and up at Ontario pharmacies, including those in the Waterloo Region. Those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine are currently waiting for the province to announce any data on the safety of receiving a different COVID-19 shot for their second dose. The remaining AstraZeneca supply will be reserved for second doses.  

This Tuesday, the Region of Waterloo announced that anyone aged 12 years and up can now pre-register for a COVID-19 vaccine. The expansion comes as the provincial government announced that more shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be shipped to pharmacies that are impacted by COVID-19 for people 18 years and older. 

As of this week, 45 per cent of residents in the Waterloo Region who are eligible for the vaccine have received at least one dose.

Across Ontario, there have been conversations on extending the provincial stay-at-home, which is scheduled to end on May 20. According to the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), it is unsafe for the government to lift restrictions by May 20 due to the rate of daily cases and number of people in hospitals. OMA does, however, believe that outdoor recreational activity sites, such as golf and tennis courses, should be open. 

While there is currently no word on an announcement, Ontario health minister, Christine Elliott, indicated that the stay-at-home order may be extended past May 20.

As of May 12, Waterloo health officials have confirmed 14,989 total cases of COVID-19, including 254 deaths. 476 cases are considered active in the Region.