Ontario said Wednesday it plans to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in all nursing homes and high-risk retirement homes by Feb. 15.
In a technical briefing this morning, members of Ontario’s vaccine distribution task force said that residents, workers and essential caregivers at those facilities will get their first doses by that date.
The plan builds on an earlier pledge to give the COVID-19 vaccine to long-term care facilities in hot spots by Jan. 21.
Officials said the government is 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.
Long-term care homes have been hit hard during the pandemic, with 3,063 residents dying with COVID-19 since March.
At a news conference Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford was asked about the “iron ring” the province was supposedly placed around Ontario’s long-term care homes. In response, Ford pleaded with frontline health-care workers to get tested.
“It’s not coming in through the walls and the ceiling … inadvertently though our great healthcare workers, it’s coming in,” Ford said.
The premier also said it’s possible Canadian Forces soldiers will be called in again at some hard hit homes, although provided no specifics.
The province said it had administered more than 144,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Wednesday. Futher, about 8,000 people have now received the two doses of the vaccine required for full immunization.
Ford said the province had administered over 150,000 vaccines so far.
“That is changing on an hourly basis,” he said.
“We’re emptying our freezers.”