Expanded vaccine eligibility and an issue with the provincial booking system resulted in long wait times today at the Kenora mass vaccination clinic

Residents showed up in droves upon hearing that vaccine eligibility expanded for walk-in clinics. This combined with appointments booked through the provincial booking system resulted in walk-in clients waiting upwards of fours hour to get their shot, while those with appointments waited close to two hours for their poke.

"I think they should've had it a little better organized," said Wendy Paton, who had a booked appointment. "I'm able to stand here, but there is a lot of people that will be affected by even the little bit of heat and just standing around."

A spokesperson with the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) says issues with the provincial booking system, last week, lead them to add walk-ins to their clinics this week to ensure no vaccine was wasted.

The health unit expanded vaccine eligibility earlier this week to include anyone who received their first dose on or before May 9, leading to an influx of walk-in clients today.

"Shortly after our Kenora clinic opened today, we noted a large number of people arriving as walk-ins," said an NWHU spokesperson in an email to KenoraOnline. "We counted the line-up and informed people in the line that the wait will be lengthy and stopped others from joining the line-up once we hit capacity for the day. Those who we turned away were given appointment times for tomorrow."

The health unit noted they are happy to see residents rushing to get vaccinated and will review their walk-in strategy moving forward.

Roberta Wright, who also had a booked appointment, says she really appreciates all the work the health unit is doing, even though she had to wait.

"The first shot I got, I didn't even have to wait. I was in and out. But this is worth it to get the shot," Wright said.

The NWHU will be hosting a number of clinics tomorrow and Saturday across the region.

These clinics are open to anyone looking to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine that is 12-years-old or older on the day of their vaccination. Those that received their first dose on or before May 9 are eligible to receive their second dose at the walk-in clinics.

Below is a list of vaccination clinics the health unit will be offering tomorrow and Saturday.

June 11

Dryden at the arena from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Fort Frances at St. Francis School from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Kenora at the recreation centre from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

June 12

Dryden at the arena from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Sioux Narrows at the community hall from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (To receive a second dose at this clinic, you must have received your first dose on or before April 18.)

Residents that don't want to wait in walk-in lines, can book their second dose appointments through the provincial booking system if they meet the Ministry of Health's eligibility criteria.

A number of pharmacies are also offering COVID-19 vaccinations based on supply.

- No Frills in Kenora – Moderna (18+)
- Shoppers Drug Mart in Kenora – Pfizer (12+)
- The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Kenora – Moderna (18+)

- Shoppers Drug Mart in Dryden – Pfizer (12+)
- Wal-Mart Pharmacy in Dryden – Moderna (18+)

- Rexall in Sioux Lookout – Moderna (18+)
- Rx Drug Mart in Sioux Lookout – Moderna (18+)
- Sioux Lookout Remedy’s Rx – Moderna (18+)

If you want to receive a vaccine from a local pharmacy, you should reach out to your preferred pharmacy for details on booking an appointment.

As of Monday, the combined vaccination percentage of people 18+ across the region is 69.9 per cent.

The Kenora Health Hub ended the week with a vaccine percentage of 70.8, Fort Frances led the pack at 74.3 per cent vaccinated, Dryden at 74.1 per cent, Atikokan at 73.7 per cent, Sioux Lookout at 68.5 percent, Emo with a percentage of 67.3 per cent. Rainy River at 59.5 per cent and Red Lake rounds out the pack with 48.4 per cent.