Coronavirus Canada Updates: Ontario Accelerates COVID-19 Vaccinations for Long-Term Care Homes in Priority Regions

Coronavirus Canada: Ontario opening COVID-19 vaccine appointments opening for those 18+ starting Tuesday
Coronavirus Canada: Ontario opening COVID-19 vaccine appointments opening for those 18+ starting Tuesday

The Ontario government is continuing the rollout of Phase One of its vaccine implementation plan by ensuring that all residents, health care workers and essential caregivers at long-term care homes in the priority regions of Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex receive a COVID-19 vaccination by January 21, 2021.

The government’s vaccine rollout is well underway since launching in December. Frontline health care workers who participated in the successful Pfizer pilot program in Toronto and Ottawa are receiving their second doses this week. To date, 44 vaccine sites have been established. Over 50,000 people have been administered the Pfizer vaccine, including over 26,000 vaccinations administered to health care workers in long-term care homes and retirement homes, over 20,000 vaccinations administered to health care workers and nearly 1,000 vaccinations administered to residents.

Nearly 3,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine were administered to 24 long-term care homes between December 31, 2020 and January 3rd, 2021. Over 4,000 doses to 26 long-term care homes of the Moderna vaccine are planned to be administered between January 4 and January 6. An estimated 2 million vaccine doses are expected to arrive throughout the winter during Phase One of the province’s vaccine implementation plan.

“Ontario continues to make important progress in quickly and safely vaccinating our frontline health care workers, our most vulnerable and those at greatest risk, and we continue to administer doses to thousands of Ontarians across the province,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Our Vaccination Distribution Task Force, led by General Rick Hillier, has put a plan in place to get these doses distributed and administered as quickly as possible and that plan is working.”

On December 30th, Ontario received nearly 53,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine from the federal government. This first, small shipment is being used for a pilot in Toronto, York, Peel and Windsor-Essex to vaccinate residents at long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes, with the vaccine being administered at select long-term care homes within a day of receiving the shipment.

As the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines continues, the Ontario government is investing an additional $398 million during the second wave to reduce the risk of the virus from entering long-term care homes from the community. The new funding will help homes adhere to enhanced staff and visitor testing requirements and continue to improve COVID-19 prevention and containment. The new investment brings Ontario’s total funding to protect long-term care homes since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to $1.38 billion.

“We continue to do everything we can to help stop the spread of this virus and protect our most vulnerable, as well as the staff who have been working tirelessly to keep residents safe,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “While we rollout the vaccine as quickly as possible, we are also providing additional support to help homes detect any cases early so that the virus can be contained.”

“Ontario continues to follow the expert advice and recommendations of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force in order to ensure the timely, effective and ethical execution of Ontario’s immunization program,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “This investment, along with prioritizing long-term care homes in areas with high rates of COVID-19, will help protect our most vulnerable residents and keep Ontarians safe.”

“We are getting the vaccine to those who need it most as quickly as possible,” said General Rick Hillier (retired). “Every vaccination has the potential to save a life. Our focus is on getting the vaccines to the most vulnerable, as well as to the outstanding men and women who serve and care for our long-term care residents.”

As part of Phase One, Ontario will continue to focus on vaccinating vulnerable populations, and those who care for them, as more vaccines become available. 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.

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