When the provincial government announced that 21 pharmacies in Hamilton would be carrying and administering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible residents, it seemed like a solid step of progress for local vaccine rollout.
There’s a problem, though: of all 21 pharmacies, not a single one is located in Hamilton’s lower city.
The lack of lower city representation in the pharmacy vaccine program is both a considerable oversight and a move that makes vaccine availability more difficult for Hamilton’s lower income residents, many of whom live in neighbourhoods within the lower city and may not have easy access to a pharmacy on the Hamilton Mountain or in Stoney Creek, Dundas, and Ancaster.
It’s an issue that hasn’t gone unnoticed by some of Hamilton’s lower city representatives, who have collectively expressed their outrage over the glaring exclusion.
A public letter was issued jointly by Matthew Green, MP for Hamilton Centre; Ward 3 Councillor Nrinder Nann; Andrea Horwath, MPP for Hamilton Centre; Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr; Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla; and Ward 1 Councillor Maureen Wilson.
Joint Statement by Lower City of Hamilton Reps
Re: Lower City left out on the the COVID-19 vaccine rollout via local pharmacies.
“We call on Doug Ford and the Ont Vaccine Distribution Task Force to reconsider their negligence and supply pharmacies in the lower City of Hamilton” pic.twitter.com/Z7j6GQmr9q
— Matthew Green 🍊📈✊🏾 (@MatthewGreenNDP) April 5, 2021
“We join with the residents of Lower Hamilton to express our outrage at the provincial government’s decision to exclude the lower city of Hamilton in their COVID-19 vaccine rollout via local pharmacies,” reads the letter issued on April 5th.
“Despite the number of essential workers and vulnerable people living in these neighbourhoods, the province designated no pharmacies in inner city communities for the community pharmacy locations rollout. This exclusion is incomprehensible and irresponsible given the risks in lower and inner-city Hamilton.”
The letter concludes with a call for Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the COVID Vaccine Distribution Task Force to “reconsider their negligence, and supply pharmacies in lower city Hamilton with vaccines to protect residents.”
Notably, the Ford government announced a further extension of vaccine rollout in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon; one which will allow residents aged 18 and over living in a selection of higher-risk neighbourhoods to get vaccinated as part of the rollout’s Phase Two.
However, once again, no postal codes in Hamilton’s lower city were included in this portion of the rollout.
No word yet on whether the Ontario government intends to amend the oversight.