Eligible residents in Muskoka are now able to get the COVID-19 vaccine with clinics set-up in Bracebridge and Huntsville, but Gravenhurst’s Mayor is frustrated that once again they have been overlooked when it comes to healthcare services.

“It’s been an ongoing issue with regard to this community and being left behind for many many years,” Mayor Paul Kelly tells the MyMuskokaNow.com newsroom. 

Adults 85 years or older, Indigenous adults 55 years and older, as well as their adult household members, adult recipients of chronic home care, and very high priority frontline healthcare workers, are able to get inoculated by going to the Bracebridge Sportsplex or the Active Living Centre in Huntsville. No location has been set-up in Gravenhurst.

Going back to the summer, Kelly says he had to do some extra leg work to get an assessment centre. He explains clinics have been set-up in Bracebridge and Huntsville, but not in Gravenhurst. He says he reached out to the owner of the town’s Shoppers Drug Mart Simon Lu. “He went to his head office to request that they be considered, and I went up the food chain to (Premier Doug Ford),” he says. The centre was later opened in October

“Here we go again,” Kelly says.

He says it’s frustrating that once again they’re being left out. “It’s certainly pushed a lot of buttons for our community saying ‘what about us,'” Kelly adds. He notes that there’s a “significant” part of Gravenhurst’s population over 70 that can’t drive. “Trying to get them to a vaccine centre is a huge problem,” he says. The closest clinic locations for them are in Bracebridge and Orillia.

Kelly says he has reached out to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner to find out why Gravenhurst doesn’t have a clinic and figure out how one could be brought to the town. “I could not have made it any clearer,” Kelly says about his conversation with our region’s top doctor. 

Dr. Gardner didn’t say Tuesday whether or not a clinic will be set-up in Gravenhurst in future. “I’m committed to responding well to his request and to working with staff and partners to look at that,” he added.

“The problem is there is no plan for what will happen to Gravenhurst other than people in Gravenhurst will have to go to Huntsville,” Kelly says. With AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine getting approval from Health Canada earlier this week, Kelly says a better plan needs to be in place so residents can get a shot as soon as vaccines become available. 

“It’s unfortunate that you have to go to the old saying ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease,'” Kelly says. “But, you know what, unless you speak up they will just assume everything is fine”