At his new conference today to discuss the COVID vaccination rollout Retired General Rick Hillier took the blame for the decision to shut down vaccinations in Ontario in some locations for two days over the holidays. Hillier, chair of the province’s Vaccine Distribution Task Force, told CTV News that pausing inoculations was the wrong decision. “I take responsibility for that.’ “We’ve been slammed. We’ve been spanked (legitimately),” said Hillier. But it turns out that it was also staff burnout and a limited supply of vaccines that led to the decision to close some COVID-19 immunization clinics on the holiday weekend,.
But Kevin Smith, the president of Toronto’s largest hospital network defended the decision.
“We’ve just burned our staff out entirely,” said Dr. Kevin Smith, president and CEO of the University Health Network, which is operating a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at its Michener Institute site.
“There is a limit beyond which we can’t push our hospital-based providers, and we’re at that point. People can’t take on any more. They really are burnt out and needed a couple of days’ downtime.”
‘Smith said those levelling criticism are “oversimplifying” the situation. The staffing issues are primarily on the pharmacist side, he said, adding that each dose of the vaccine needs to be properly mixed and prepared.
So unless the health-care workers volunteering their services have experience mixing vaccines, their offers of help aren’t much use. “It isn’t just about having someone put a needle in an arm.”
Toronto has been consistently reporting the highest number of new COVID cases in Ontario for several weeks now. Yesterday alone, Toronto accounted for almost 900 new cases, and several Toronto hospitals have zero ICU beds available.