An update on Ontario’s vaccination timeline has been released showing that a significant portion of long-term care residents is now immunized against the virus with details on who can expect a vaccine as part of Phase 2, including, but not limited to, secondary and elementary school staff.
The plan will see shots administered based on risk factors including age, neighbourhood, existing health conditions and inability to work from home.
The province says it’s effectively speeding up its vaccination process, showing that anyone above the age of 60 in COVID-19 hotspots will be able to be treated against COVID-19 by May into early June.
Led by retired Gen. Rick Hillier who joined Premier Doug Ford on Friday, the province says as part of Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout – which focused primarily on treating Ontario’s most vulnerable – 820,000 doses have been dolled out thus far with 269,000 Ontarians inoculated against COVID-19.
Phase 2 is expected to commence in April, barring unforeseen delays to vaccine shipments.
Hillier says that nearly 80 percent of long-term care residents in Ontario are fully immunized with that percentage expected to grow in the coming weeks into April.
Over 89 percent of residents currently in retirement homes have been treated. The process of vaccinating caregivers, staff, and front-line workers is still underway, Hiller confirmed.
As part of Phase 2 of the rollout, the province will see vaccine shipments ramp up throughout March with the most significant coming from Moderna.
Shipments expected to grow from just over 160,000 through the week of March 8 to over 320,000 doses expected to arrive in the week of March 22.
As shipments increase, seniors will continue to receive the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines while those under 64 will begin to be treated with the AstraZeneca vaccine as early as next week.
Though non-committal on the matter, Hillier said mass-vaccinations could begin on June 20, depending entirely on vaccine supply in the coming months.
“Our aim to be is to allow the province of Ontario to have a first needle in the arm of every eligible person who wants it by the first day of summer,” said the retired general.
“That’s the challenge goal I put out there. Twenty of June, coming up.”
- March 1 and 8: 173,160 doses each week
- March 15 and 22: 174,330 doses each week
- March 29: 175,500 doses
- April 5 and 12: 298,350 doses each week
- Week of March 8: 160,500 doses
- Week of March 22: 323,200 doses
As for AstraZeneca, the province confirmed that it will receive 194,000 doses of the newly-approved vaccine, saying a specific timeline must be revised by the feds.
Health Minister Elliott says many of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses expected to arrive in the province will go to the pharmacies for the pilot program.
Canada received 500,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca this week and Ontario has said those doses will be given to people between the ages of 60 and 64.
This follows a federal approval of more vaccines and a panel’s recommendation that the time between doses can be extended up to four months.
On Friday, the province formally accepted the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s (NACI) proposal, saying the process of delaying doses will begin on March 10.
With the extended intervals between the first and second doses, the NACI projects 80 percent of Canadians over the age of 16 could receive a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna shot by the end of June.
NACI said this week that it is safe for provinces to wait for that long before giving administering the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines.
“This will allow Ontario to rapidly accelerate its vaccine rollout and get as many vaccines into arms as quickly as possible and, in doing so, provide more protection to more people,” said a spokesperson from Ontario’s minister of health this week.
Who can expect to be vaccinated in Phase 2:
High-risk people, including individuals with neurological diseases, immune deficiencies, diabetes, dementia, and other developmental disabilities such as down syndrome are among the many qualified to receive a vaccine as part of Phase 2.
The province also says that certain hotspots will receive additional vaccine supplies, such as Toronto, Peel, Durham, Halton, Hamilton, and York.
Anyone over the age of 75 and aged 60-and-up can expect a vaccine in April through May.
The province did confirm that the AstraZeneca vaccine will only be given to those between the ages of 60 and 64.
- Elementary/Secondary school staff
- Workers responding to critical events (e.g., police, fire, compliance, funeral, special constables)
Childcare and licensed foster care workers
- Food manufacturing workers
- Agriculture and farm workers
- High-risk and critical retail workers (grocery and pharmacies)
- Remaining manufacturing labourers
- Social workers (incl youth justice)
- Courts and justice system workers (incl. probation and parole)
- Lower-risk retail workers (wholesalers, general goods
- Transportation, warehousing, and distribution
- Energy, telecom (data and voice), water and wastewater management
- Waste management
- Mining, oil, and gas workers
A priority for the province, it says, is to vaccinate a number of residents that cannot work at home. This includes elementary and secondary staff, first responders such as police officers and firefighters, and childcare and licensed workers.
Additionally, high-risk and critical retail workers – including grocery and pharmacy employees and social workers, among many – are eligible to receive their doses during this phase.
It is expected that 80 percent of total provincial vaccine allocations will be administered through mass immunization clinics during Phase 2 and Phase 3. Ontario says it’s working with 34 public health units to rapidly implement these clinics.
The only vaccine portal is slated to go live on March 15.
The vaccine pilot regions include Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington as well as Peterborough, Hastings, and Prince Edward County.
All four currently approved vaccines are 100 percent effective against death and hospitalization as a result of COVID-19, but clinical trials suggested mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) were more effective at preventing COVID-19 infections.
At a vaccine briefing on Friday, Dr. Supriya Sharma with Health Canada confirmed that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine will be the fourth treatment available for Canadians.
Sharma says in clinical trials, the J&J vaccine was shown to be 66 percent effective overall in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Ontario says pharmacies in three public health units, including Toronto, will begin giving out COVID-19 vaccines next week.
Staff at Humber River Hospital are teaming up with Villa Charities, and they will be helping out with immunization for elderly residents living in three seniors’ apartments in North York.
Casa del Zotto, Caboto Terrace, both located at Dufferin Street and Lawrence Avenue West, as well as Casa Abruzzo at Keele Street and Falstaff Avenue, will be visited by mobile clinics with hospital staff. This vaccination process will take place from March 8th to March 11th.
All consenting seniors will receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Just over 30,400 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in a single day this week as several health units in the province opened up online booking for all adults over the age of 80.
The Ford government also announced that Toronto and Peel Region will move to the province’s “Grey-Lockdown” on Monday, March 8.
That would see the retail sector reopen in these regions at limited capacity.
On Monday in York Region, seniors at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital faced a lineup that stretched through several hallways. What was supposed to be a 10-minute line turned into a wait that in some cases was more than an hour.
For those getting a #COVID19 vaccine at the Ray Twinney Complex, please arrive just 10 minutes before your appointment time. Arriving just in time helps to keep the line as short as possible.
— Southlake (@SouthlakeRHC) March 5, 2021
With files from the Canadian Press