Ontario plans to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in all nursing homes and high-risk retirement homes by Feb. 15 and will begin mass delivery to select groups of people in April.
On Wednesday, the Ford government said health officials are preparing to immunize up to 8.5-million people before the end of Phase 2.
The province is currently focusing on vaccinating health-care workers and those in long-term care facilities but says people over the age of 80 will be the first priority group to receive the shot when Ontario enters the second phase of its vaccine rollout in April.
Those eligible to be vaccinated as part of Phase 2 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, teachers, food processing industry); and
- Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers.
“With Phase 1 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 Ford.
“We now have a well-oiled machine, led by Gen. 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,” Ford added.
In the spring and from April to June, officials project to secure and distribute roughly 15 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s treatment. Of that tally, around 4.5-million will be administered to essential workers and the aforementioned age demographic above 80.
Roughly 500,000 people consisted of high-risk, followed by 4 million people aged anywhere from 16 to 60 years old, will be inoculated, if they so choose, according to this plan.
Ontario has administered more than 144,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Wednesday. This includes over 45,000 healthcare workers in LTC and retirement homes, over 77,000 healthcare workers, and over 13,000 LTC and retirement home residents.
An additional 20,000 long-term care, retirement home staff, residents, and essential caregivers have
received Moderna vaccinations, the province confirmed.
It also says about 8,000 people have now received the two doses of the vaccine required for full immunization.
Phase 1 of the vaccine program is expected to see approximately 1.5 million eligible people vaccinated, Ford said.
The plan builds on an earlier pledge to give the COVID-19 vaccine to long-term care facilities in hot spots by Jan. 21.
Ontario will enter Phase 3, planned for August when vaccines are available for every provincial resident that wishes to be treated.
The government says it’s now able to move the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine safely to long-term care facilities, which has allowed it to speed up immunizations in nursing homes.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require a second dose either 21 days or 28 days after the first shot is given.
Long-term care homes have been hit hard during the pandemic, with 3,063 residents dying of COVID-19 since March.
Ontario is reporting 2,961 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, and 74 deaths.
Compared to the day before, this is a two percent increase in new infections and an 80.5 percent increase in the number of lives lost because of the virus.
-- with files from The Canadian Press