Ontarians over age 80, frontline essential workers and people in high-risk neighbourhoods will be eligible
People age 80 and over, teachers, first responders and farm workers will qualify for COVID-19 vaccine does in phase 2 of Ontario’s immunization plan.
Retired Canadian general Rick Hillier, the head of the province’s vaccine distribution task force, said on Wednesday that the second phase will begin in late March or early April and see up to 8.5 million people vaccinated by July.
Groups that are eligible to receive doses in phase 2 are:
Hillier said phase 2’s start date depends on the arrival of 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses – both Pfizer and Moderna – in March or April. During this period, three primary groups will be vaccinated concurrently, he said.
“We want to get at those who are most vulnerable. Those in the age brackets 80 years old and above,” he said, adding once that age group is done, 75 and above, 70 and above and so on will be next.
“At the same time, we want to look after those, and get vaccinating right away, those who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. We’re talking about some of the racialized communities, some of the communities around our province where COVID-19, as one of the doctors told me, ‘the neighbourhood is hot with COVID-19,'” he continued. “That includes the urban Indigenous.”
Hillier also said Ontario will undertake “incredible program of mass vaccination support” for frontline essential workers, which includes first responders, such as firefighters, and food supply chain workers, such as farm workers.
Ontario is in the midst of phase one of the rollout. During a press briefing at Queen’s Park on Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford said the province is vaccinating 20,000 people per day and aims to get that number to 40,000 per day by February.
Hillier added that Ontario has received 147,000 shots of the of Pfizer vaccine as of yesterday and 140,000 of those shots have been administered. A shipment of just under 50,000 more Pfizer doses arrived in the province last night.
So far, Health Canada has approved COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
The federal government is procuring and distributing vaccines to the provinces, which are tasked with coordinating immunization with support from municipalities.
In phase one of Ontario’s plan residents, staff and essential caregivers of long-term care homes are receiving doses. The government aims to have all first doses of the two-shot vaccines administered no later than February 15.
Approximately 1.5 million people will be vaccinated as part of phase one.
The province said in a statement that all staff and residents in long-term care homes in four areas with the highest rates of transmission – Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor Essex – will have received the COVID-19 vaccine by January 21.
The general population will be vaccinated in phase 3, which the goverment says could begin by August 2021 “pending availability of vaccines.”
There are 19 hospitals running vaccination clinics and a clinic is opening at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on January 18. That site will vaccine frontline health-care workers and learnings will be used to create a model for the province’s mass vaccination playbook.
Ontario reported nearly 3,000 new COVID-19 cases and 78 deaths on Wednesday.
Ford declared a new state of emergency on Tuesday in a bid to curb out-of-control virus spread in the province. A stay-at-home order takes effect just after midnight tonight.