Ontario is currently in the first of a three-phase COVID-19 vaccine rollout and while its been marred by shipment delays and confusion from suppliers and the federal government, several regions in the province have begun to outline their local plans.
The Government of Canada is responsible for obtaining the supply of approved COVID-19 vaccines while the Ontario government is responsible for the registration system and the distribution of vaccines. Each local region and public health unit is tasked with supporting the province’s plan and many will be holding vaccination clinics.
Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are currently the only two vaccines approved in Canada and both require two doses.
The province was expected to receive approximately 157,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Wednesday, but Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said it wasn’t immediately clear what shipment levels will look like in the coming weeks.
As of Wednesday morning, 489,484 doses have been administered and a total of 195,366 people have been fully vaccinated in Ontario.
Phase 1 began in December 2020 and is expected to run until March 2021. More information on the province’s vaccine rollout plan can be found here.
The Ontario government recently put out a memo stating that all long-term care homes across the province have been offered the first dose of a vaccine.
As for who is next to receive the vaccine in Phase 1, Ford government officials said they will target the following demographics:
- Staff and essential caregivers in long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes, First Nations elder care homes and any residents who have not received a dose.
- Alternative level of care patients in hospitals who have an admission to a long-term care home, retirement home or other congregate care home.
- “Highest priority” health-care workers, including those who deal directly with COVID-19 patients, medical first responders, some community workers, and others.
- “Very high priority” health-care workers, including more hospital workers and health-care workers in congregate care settings, more community workers, and others.
- Indigenous adults in northern remote and high-risk communities.
It is important to note that several health care workers, caregivers and other front-line workers have been vaccinated, however, it is not clear the total amount at this time.
Once those vaccines are administered, here are the groups next in line:
- Adults aged 80 and older.
- Staff, caregivers, and residents in retirement homes and other congregate settings for seniors.
- “High priority” health-care workers, including those involved in community care with a lower risk of exposure serving both special and general populations, as well as those involved in non-acute rehabilitation.
- All Indigenous adults.
- Adults receiving chronic home care.
When asked by Global News on Sunday how those in the community will be able to get their vaccines, Elliott’s office said planning is “ongoing” and details will be released in the near future. However, the government is in the process of creating a web portal and service desk for Ontarians to set vaccine appointments.
The second phase of vaccinations was initially planned between April and June and the final phase was scheduled for between August and December.
However, there are questions surrounding these dates after Pzifer temporarily scaled back production in late January with the hope of scaling up to manufacture approximately two billion vaccine doses a year, up from the initial target of 1.3 billion.
Shipping on the latest batch was expected to be impacted by one or two days due to an intense winter storm system that moved through the United States.
Canada should receive more than 23 million vaccine doses from Moderna and Pfizer by the end of June.
Meanwhile, regions across the province are preparing their plans for when vaccine distribution once they are available. Here are the plans from several Ontario regions:
Toronto announced nine mass immunization clinics will be opened across the city. It’s expected each location able to administer up to 120,000 vaccines per week, but that will depend on supply.
Mayor John Tory said the clinics are just a part of the overall distribution plan, which will include family doctors, pharmacies and hospitals.
Matthew Pegg, the general manager of emergency management for the City of Toronto, said more specific details will be released in the coming weeks once the province and federal government shore up the vaccine supply numbers.
Ottawa health officials provided a rough outline of what its vaccine distribution plan will look like and the aim is to have almost half the city’s residents inoculated by July.
At this time, residents are receiving vaccinations at the Ottawa Hospital Civic campus and are setting up four other clinic sites: the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park, the Eva James Memorial Centre in Kanata, the Orléans Client Service Centre and the Nepean Sportsplex.
The region of Waterloo, which encompasses the cities of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and four smaller townships, announced its plan to provide up to 10,000 vaccinations per day once enough doses are received.
The City said it plans to follow the province’s three-phase approach mentioned above.
Five clinics will be opened, including one that is already opened at Grand River Hospital. Mobile vaccine clinics will also run, as well as up to eight mid-sized clinics. The City said it would also have vaccines available at pharmacies.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health said its mass COVID-19 vaccination program is committed to vaccinating at least 75 per cent of the population aged 16 years and over by early August.
Included in the local plan is the creation of vaccination clinics that could administer up to 10,000 doses a day.
Hub clinics will be located at public health offices in Guelph and Orangeville as well as the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex. Mobile clinics will be used as well as “partner-led clinics” headed up by the Guelph Family Team, the University of Guelph and Linamar.
Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health announced on Tuesday that two local arenas will be used for mass vaccination sites once the adequate supply is made available.
Both both Kingston’s INVISTA Centre and Napanee’s Strathcona Paper Centre will be the locations, and it’s expected both will be able to provide up to 3,000 doses a day.
As of Wednesday, Kingston has been providing vaccines through hospital-based clinics and mobile clinics at long-term care and retirement homes, targeting those groups outlined in Ontario’s phase one plan.
Durham Region Public Health has been administering vaccines through its on-site vaccination clinic at Lakeridge Health Oshawa Hospital as well as a mobile clinic.
To date, over 15,000 vaccines have been given to priority populations, such as residents, staff and essential caregivers of long-term care homes and retirement homes as well as high-risk health care workers.
The unit said it is working in partnership with the Ontario government, but there are no other plans currently in place for a further rollout of vaccines.
York Region Public Health officials said they are in the process of finalizing and vaccine rollout plan.
As of Wednesday, they said it’s looking like drive-thru vaccination clinics at Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan and at the Markham Fairgrounds will be setup.
Furthermore, five “static” vaccination clinics will be located in the following cities and towns in the region: Newmarket, Georgina, Richmond Hill, Markham and Vaughan.
“Vaccination clinic sites are subject to change based on capacity and operational needs; additional sites may be added or may replace a pre-identified site,” Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s medical officer of health, said in a statement Monday.
While more details are set to be revealed at the public health board meeting on Friday, Hamilton’s medical officer of health says the City is looking to move to phase two of its vaccination plan.
Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said Hamilton will next look to vaccinate seniors 80 years and older in retirement homes and other congregate settings. She said some homes had begun the process for those living in facilities where people eat together informal dining rooms.
When more widespread vaccination is available, Richardson said the City is looking to open larger-scale clinics. Alternate-level-of-care patients are also expected to get vaccines.
Phase one, which is currently underway, is set to continue through the weekend. Patients will be seen at the satellite health facility downtown and St. Peter’s Hospital on Maplewood Avenue.
The Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) fixed clinic is also expected to resume vaccinations for long-term care and high-risk retirement home staff, essential caregivers, and high-risk health-care workers on Friday.
As of Wednesday, Ontario reported 288,583 total coronavirus cases and 6,729 total deaths to date.
—With files from Ryan Rocca, Don Mitchell and The Canadian Press
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