Toronto: The Ontario government yesterday announced it is preparing to immunize up to 8.5 million people before the end of Phase Two of the government’s Covid-19 vaccine implementation plan.
To date, more than 144,000 doses of the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccines have been administered at 196 locations across the province, said a government statement.
“With Phase One of our plan well underway, we’re getting ready to expand our vaccine rollout and get more needles into arms as soon as the supply is available,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We now have a well-oiled machine, led by General Hillier, and we are making tremendous progress. We know this second phase will be an even larger logistical undertaking than the first. That’s why we’re ramping up our capacity on the ground to ensure these vaccines are administered quickly, beginning with the people who need them most.”
General Rick Hillier (retired) is Chair of the Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force.
The statement said the province has mapped out the next steps for transitioning into Phase Two and has adopted an approach for identifying the next groups to receive the vaccination as early as March 2021. In order to vaccinate Ontarians as safely and quickly as possible, the government is expanding the list of health care providers who can administer Covid-19 vaccines.
Phase One of the vaccine implementation program is expected to see approximately 1.5 million eligible people vaccinated. Vaccination of residents, staff and essential caregivers of long-term care homes has begun in many parts of the province, with the goal of having the first dose administered in all homes no later than February 15, 2021. The vaccination of all staff and residents in long-term care homes in four areas with the highest rates of transmission, Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor Essex, is expected to be completed by January 21, 2021.
Groups eligible to receive vaccines as part of Phase Two of the Ontario immunization program will include:
- Older adults, beginning with those 80 years of age and older and decreasing in five-year increments over the course of the vaccine rollout;
- Individuals living and working in high-risk congregate settings;
- Frontline essential workers (e.g., first responders, education workers, food processing industry);
- Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers; and
- Other populations and communities facing barriers related to the determinants of health across Ontario who are at greater Covid-19 risk.
Phase Two is expected to be completed by end of July 2021 and Phase Three for the general population could begin as early as August 2021, pending availability of vaccines. Vaccination of populations in Phase One will continue until all vaccinations are complete.
In preparation for Phase Two of the vaccination distribution plan, more vaccination sites will be added. Over the coming months, those sites will include municipally run vaccination sites, hospital sites, mobile vaccination sites, pharmacies, clinics, primary care settings and community locations such as community health centres and aboriginal health access centres.
The first municipally run vaccination site will be opening on January 18 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The site will be administering vaccines to Phase One priority populations, including select frontline health care workers. It will be an initial proof-of-concept for municipally run vaccination centres, with a small number of doses to start with, from which learnings will be used to inform other locations across the province.
As the vaccine supply increases, and guided by the Ethical Framework for Covid-19 vaccine distribution, Ontario is also enabling more health care providers to administer the vaccine as quickly and safely as possible. This will help meet the unprecedented demand in the number of people who will be getting vaccinated. It will also increase access to the vaccine for all Ontarians, whether they reside in a remote fly-in community or a large urban centre. Health care professionals who are able to administer the vaccine can register and apply through Ontario’s Matching Portal. This could include nurse practitioners, registered nurses and registered practical nurses, along with pharmacists, pharmacy students, interns and pharmacy technicians.
Individuals interested in supporting the broader Covid-19 vaccination plan in roles such as data entry and scheduling, can also express their interest through Ontario’s Matching Portal.
As the vaccination rollout continues, it remains critically important that all Ontarians continue following public health advice to protect our communities and most vulnerable populations, and to stop the spread of Covid-19.
- To date, vaccines have been administered at 196 locations. Over 144,000 doses of the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine have been administered across the province, including over 45,000 vaccinations administered to health care workers in long-term care homes and retirement homes, over 77,000 vaccinations administered to hospital workers and over 13,000 vaccinations administered to residents. An additional 20,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine have been administered in 158 long-term care homes since December 31, 2020.
- Nearly 1,290 doses have been delivered by Ornge to James Bay Coast and Sioux Lookout with 145 vaccines administered to remote fly-in First Nation communities this week.
- Ontario is adding three additional sites, Niagara Health – St. Catharines Site, Kingston General Hospital, and Brantford General Hospital, to receive and host immunization clinics for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. These three sites will receive allocations to assist in vaccinating health care workers, residents, staff and essential caregivers of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes.
- Ontario received nearly 196,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on January 11, with regular weekly shipments of Pfizer vaccine expected during January 2021. Additional delivery sites will be offering the vaccine to the key populations by the end of January.
- On December 30, Ontario received nearly 53,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine from the federal government. This first shipment is being used in Toronto, York, Peel and Windsor-Essex to vaccinate residents at long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes, and ensuring that all residents, health care workers and essential caregivers at long-term care homes in the priority areas receive a Covid-19 vaccination by January 21, 2021.