As vaccination appointments fill up in the Niagara region, some people there are booking spots in Hamilton.
Niagara Region tweeted that its clinics were fully booked as of Thursday morning, attributing it to Ontario’s booking portal opening up to Niagara residents aged 60 and over.
But some people reported on social media that they’ve managed to snag spots if they’re willing and able to head east.
A spokesperson for Niagara region public health confirmed that if people are using the provincial booking portal, it allows them to search for appointments anywhere in Ontario. Residents from Hamilton may book into Niagara clinics, the spokesperson said, and vice versa.
This morning (April 7 ) <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Niagara?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Niagara</a> saw many new appointments booked as Ontario’s booking portal opened up to Niagara residents 60+. As a result, all Niagara area clinics are now fully booked. We hope to add more clinics in the coming days. <br>Read more: <a href=”https://t.co/HbCC5vErzC”>https://t.co/HbCC5vErzC</a> <a href=”https://t.co/rfcGo7K2iK”>pic.twitter.com/rfcGo7K2iK</a>
It’s unknown how many appointments have been booked in Hamilton by out-of-towners, and how many Hamiltonians are heading elsewhere for their vaccinations.
People told to stay-at-home but may have to travel to get vaccinated: Horwath
Leader of the Ontario NDP and Hamilton Centre MPP Andrea Horwath said while vaccines are needed in people’s arms —and if there are open appointments, they need to be filled — there’s also a stay-at-home order in place.
The stay-at-home lists getting vaccinated as an essential reason to leave your home, but it also says individuals should remain in their local communities.
“Once again this speaks to the mixed messages that come from Doug Ford,” she said. “People get confused.”
“It also speaks to the sloppy, confused roll out of the vaccination program writ large. Let’s face it, they have done a dismal job,” she said.
Talk of cross-regional bookings follows news that thousands of school staff members in Niagara are being permitted to get vaccinated over the April break.
While the province has said Hamilton educators in high-risk areas will be prioritized, it’s also said they won’t come before others in Peel and Toronto.
Dr. Dirk Huyer, coordinator of the provincial outbreak response, said during a media briefing it was difficult for him to comment on the Niagara bookings, but that the province was focusing on “age and at-risk” in its roll out.
“Each public health unit has flexibility within the broader provincial direction, and at times there are part reasons why a public health unit may approach their vaccination roll out plan in their own specific way,” he said.
It also comes after a weekend that saw hundreds of appointments went unused at the mass vaccination clinic FirstOntario Centre, as first reported by CHCH News.
CBC Hamilton has reached out for comment from the province.