Mississauga firefighters to administer shots as vaccine clinic staff may be redeployed to help overwhelmed hospitals

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Firefighters in Mississauga will soon administer vaccines to residents as the city prepares for the possibility that staff at its mass immunization clinics may be redeployed to support hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

At a news conference Wednesday, Mayor Bonnie Crombie said the city is finalizing a partnership with Trillium Health Partner to train firefighters on administering shots.

"We know that our hospitals are overwhelmed, and staff at the mass vaccination clinics may soon be recalled to help with critical care at the hospitals. If that happens, our firefighters will be ready to step up and keep getting vaccines in arms," Crombie said.

The situation in hospitals in Peel Region remains grim.

There are currently 138 patients at Trillium Health Partners (THP) with COVID-19, with 29 in intensive care. Crombie said THP is transferring 10 patients per day to hospitals in southwestern and southeastern Ontario.

The mayor said she spoke to the heads of THP and William Osler Health System and both expressed their need for more support.

"ICU doctors fear that hospitals across Ontario will soon be in a situation where gut-wrenching decisions will have to be made about who does and doesn't receive life-saving care," Crombie said.

"Mississauga, our situation has never been more dire. And now more than ever, we need to be making strategic decisions to halt this third wave and to save lives."

Mississauga Fire Chief Deryn Rizzi said she is proud that her team will soon be helping in the vaccine rollout.

"We've been talking for quite a while in terms of how can firefighters get involved in the fight against COVID-19. And we're certainly very pleased that this partnership has come about," Rizzi said.

"And we look forward to the training that we're taking next week and getting on the frontlines and helping."

Starting next week, #Mississauga Firefighters are helping put out the ‘COVID-19 fire’ in our community. Our very own @IAFF1212 Firefighters have rolled out with @THP_hospital to get more vaccinations in the arms of our community. pic.twitter.com/1dFZUmvyj5

— Mississauga Fire (@MississaugaFES) April 21, 2021

While Peel Region has administered 400,000 doses so far, Crombie said they need more doses to vaccinate those in hot spots. She is calling on the province to revise its allocation strategy and deliver more vaccines to Peel and Toronto as soon as possible.

Crombie said she is frustrated, like many of her residents, with the supply issue hampering the rollout.

"I was very thankful that the premier announced on Friday that hotspot regions like Peel will receive 25 per cent more vaccine going forward. But the truth is we need even more than that," Crombie said.

"The sooner we get residents in hotspot regions vaccinated, the sooner the rest of the province can get out of lockdown. The reality is that Peel, Toronto and York are holding back the rest of the province right now."