TORONTO — The Ontario NDP is calling for an investigation into allegations that COVID-19 vaccines are going into the wrong arms while Canada grapples with a shortage.
“The limited supply of vaccines Ontario has received to date is jarring; what is even more concerning is the possibility that individuals are jumping the queue and using vaccine for themselves, instead of the seniors who desperately need them,” NDP deputy leader and long-term care critic Sara Singh wrote in a letter Monday to Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, the official in charge of Ontario’s vaccination program.
The letter comes after Andrew Iacobelli, the chair of the board of directors of Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ont. admitted he had received the vaccine. Iacobelli told HuffPost Canada in a statement that this was done to prevent waste, because the Moderna vaccines the home received were going to expire.
A nurse at the home says she was also asked to vaccinate family and friends of several managers and falsely categorize them as “essential caregivers,” according to a letter sent by her union to the Ministry of Health Friday. She told the union a doctor had removed doses “for what appeared to be his personal use.”
Union staff are also furious that outsiders were allowed into the home when it was under lockdown and that the vaccine doses didn’t go to vulnerable people.
A similar complaint has been made in Brantford, Ont., where public health officials say six people ineligible for the vaccine received it at a retirement home.
“I am calling on you to ensure a complete and public investigation of who received the vaccine from these homes and whether other homes have been distributing the vaccine to board members, or executive staff and their friends and families,” Singh said in her letter.
“Furthermore, I am calling on you to communicate with all organizations that are to receive the vaccine on the proper distribution of all of the doses, including instructions on who is to be first in line to receive any additional doses available.”
One allegation sent to police
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said it had referred the union’s allegation that a doctor removed doses from the home to police.
“The ministry is also looking into the allegation of individuals not in the identified priority populations being vaccinated,” Miriam Mohamadi said in an email.
“If these allegations are proven to be correct, this is completely unacceptable and the ministry continues to work with its health system partners to ensure the guidance and information provided is clearly understood by all partners regarding the prioritization of populations for COVID-19 vaccines.”
Ontario has fully vaccinated 106,163 people and given out 386,171 doses total. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the only two currently approved for use in Canada so far, require two doses.
Canada is lagging far behind peer countries in its rollout of vaccinations. Premiers, including Ontario Premier Doug Ford, have complained about sudden drops in their allocations and accuse the federal government of not doing enough to procure the doses they need.