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Sudbury senior annoyed, frustrated at health unit's vaccine lottery

Joan Hinds is a 97-year-old Canadian war veteran. She lives on her own, goes out for groceries a couple times a week, and still has all of her faculties intact.

But like other seniors, she's waiting as a health unit lottery system determines the first people to receive the vaccine in Sudbury.

That wait, and the confusion around the lottery system, is something that needs to be investigated, her son Don Hinds said. 

"My mother is not in a nursing home," Hinds said. "And if she was in a nursing home...she'd already be vaccinated or be close to being vaccinated."

"But because she chooses to live in her own apartment, she's sort of penalised for doing that."

On Friday, Public Health Sudbury & Districts (PHSD) set up a lottery system to determine who would get their doses. People over the age of 80 or who receive chronic home care were eligible to register online for the lottery. 

Earlier this week, the health unit drew names and contacted those chosen.

1,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to be administered over the two-day immunization clinic, but Hinds' mother isn't one of them.

She should have been at the top of the list
- Don Hinds

"It's very frustrating," Hinds said. "Because I'm not only waiting for a vaccine for my mother, I'm waiting for a vaccine for myself. If a 97-year old has this many problems getting a vaccination, when the hell am I going to be vaccinated?"

Hinds said he understands how much pressure health units have been under, but thinks plans could have rolled out much smoother.

"I don't think that a 97-year old person should have been waiting for a vaccine, they should be at the top of the list," he said. "Now, however you do that list is a problem. But that is my belief. She should have been at the top of the list."

Krista Gallic, who is helping coordinate PHSD's vaccine rollout, said the lottery approach was the fairest way to distribute a limited number of vaccines.

"Those who have not been randomly selected for vaccination appointment this week continue to have their names within the preregistration," Gallic said. "And we continue to randomly select based on the vaccine supply." 

"They will be receiving emails or phone calls next week or the week after until we have contacted all who would like a vaccination, and who have preregistered through the survey."