Group 2 essential workers not eligible for vaccine in Windsor-Essex
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Starting Tuesday residents in Group 2 of the province's vaccine plan can book an appointment. But that does not include residents living in Windsor-Essex.
“We don’t want to further frustrate our residents by opening an eligibility criteria without enough spaces or availability,” says Windsor-Essex County Health Unit CEO Theresa Marentette on Tuesday. “The essential workers are coming. They are a very big group.”
Essential workers in this group include employees at grocery stores, restaurants and transportation workers. Also added to the list are individuals with at-risk health conditions such as dementia, diabetes and sickle cell disease.
Zein Bitar, 19, works at La Stella Supermarket and wants to get vaccinated.
“We’re always around people and we’re always touching stuff like you see the carts and the stuff that people use,” he said. “We’re bagging people’s groceries. So, you never know who has it because there’s a lot of people that might have it, or might have been in contact with people who have had it but they don’t really say anything.”
Bitar said he feels essential workers are at a greater risk.
“It’s kind of risky to be out here, but at the end of the day we’ve got to do our job and help people help, so whenever I’m eligible, I’ll go do it,” he said.
Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Wajid Ahmed says the goal is to stay in sync with the province, but it doesn't always work out.
"Ontario is very diverse and many regions have very different needs, different expectations and different resources to support all of those needs,” he adds. “It's just a matter of demand and supply and we are trying to make sure that we are balancing everything."
On Monday, the local health unit moved down the eligibility age to 40-plus adults.
“We know people in their 40s are in the workforce,” says Marentette. “We hope we are capturing people in the second group of essential workers that cannot work from home.”
Officials were unable to give a specific date as to when they will open up vaccinations to Group 2 essential workers.
University of Waterloo Public Health Professor, Zahid Butt, tells CTV News he believes those who are essential workers should be prioritized over people who are 40 plus.
“Because, in a way they are at the front line and as we have seen there are a lot of high transmissions happening between people who are essential workers,” he says.
“If it wasn’t a matter of supply, I don’t think that this would happen. Sometimes this happens because you plan for certain things and then it doesn’t happen. You have seen that at different times during the pandemic, there were certain things that were beyond the control of public health authorities as well.”
What that happens, vaccination appointments can be booked through the health unit's website at WEVax.ca.