As the provinces anxiously await doses from the country’s first vaccine shipment, Ontario is planning to issue some kind of proof-of-vaccination card to those who receive their shots.
“That will be very important for people to have, for travel purposes and work purposes or going to theatres or cinemas or places where people will be in close contact as we get through the worst of the pandemic,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott on Tuesday.
Elliott also said that vaccination will be voluntary, but that people who refuse to be vaccinated could be barred from some activities
Ontario reported 1,676 more cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, as the number of patients hospitalized with the illness approaches 800.
The new cases include 588 in Toronto, 349 in Peel Region and 141 in York Region.
The Ministry of Education also reported that 333 cases that are school-related: 278 students and 55 staff members. The figures represent more than three days worth data, the province said, from 2 p.m. last Friday to 2 p.m. yesterday.
Some 853 of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly-funded schools, or about 17.7 per cent, have at least one case of COVID-19, while 11 schools are currently closed because of the illness.
The newly confirmed infections drop the seven-day average to 1,816, down slightly from the second-wave high of 1,820 yesterday.
Ontario preps for vaccine’s logistical challenges
The arrival of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which Pfizer recommends isn’t moved more than once after its delivered, poses logistical challenges for Ontario’s health infrastructure.
Elliott told reporters that storage sites for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine — which has to be kept at -80 C — will be announced “very shortly.”
No long-term care homes in Ontario have the ability to store it, Elliott continued, so the doses will likely have to be taken to hospitals with deep freeze capabilities. Currently, there are 21 hospitals that fit that description.
The province is also working on technology that allows it to track who has received their two doses of the vaccine.
Elliott also said that she still doesn’t know exactly how many vaccines Ontario will get in the initial shipment, but that it’s likely to be about 40 per cent of them, since they’re being distributed on a per capita basis.