Kenora MP Eric Melillo is pressing the federal government on the roll-out of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, particularly in northern and isolated communities in the riding.

“This week, Canada received no new Pfizer vaccines which is obviously very concerning,” said Melillo, during an interview late last week.

“I submitted a written question asking for some detail for northern and First Nation communities and when they can expect vaccines, and despite a 45-day period, the government wasn’t able to provide those answers.”

Melillo was also part of an emergency debate on the vaccine’s roll-out Wednesday night, saying the federal government is letting this country and its residents down, noting leaders don’t even have a timeline for when most communities in the area would be receiving doses.

"That's something that's very concerning for me -- and I think for all Canadians -- because we need the government to succeed on this. It's vitally important for our health and for our economic prosperity, as well. We're going to keep pressing the government on this.”

The first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout will prioritize those working and living in long-term care homes and remote First Nation communities. The Northwestern Health Unit has administered doses in Kenora’s Pinecrest and Dryden’s Princess Court, and over 500 doses have been given in Sioux Lookout.

During last week’s briefing, retired general Rick Hillier, who leads the province's vaccination distribution, estimated close to 80 per cent of long-term care homes had already received at least the first dose of the vaccine, and 550 of 775 retirement homes in Ontario had also received at least a first visit.

In February, Ornge Air Ambulance will lead the vaccine's rollout to 31 fly-in communities. Staff say the Canadian Rangers will be supporting their mission if required, and if desired and approved by each community.

Premier Doug Ford says mass vaccinations for phase two of the rollout program will take place in April, May and June, which focuses on the elderly, frontline workers and those most at-risk. The third phase, the remainder of the population, is expected in the summer.

COVID-19 vaccines are expected to only be available for non-pregnant adults over the age of 18. However, the groups authorized to receive vaccines could change and the program could be expanded.

All residents are asked to assume COVID-19 is spreading within your community, and to stay home, get tested and self-isolate, then remain in isolation until your test results are known, if you're feeling unwell. 

For more information:
Melillo backs emergency debate on vaccine roll-out
First COVID-19 vaccines reach Princess Court