TORONTO: The Ontario government has moved into Phase Two of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, with a focus on reaching individuals in “hot spot” communities where COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted certain neighborhoods.
In addition, this phase will prioritize individuals with the highest-risk health conditions in April 2021.
With a steady supply of the COVID-19 vaccine expected from the federal government, over nine million Ontarians will be offered their first vaccination between April and end of June 2021.
Details were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.
“Thanks to the tireless efforts of our frontline health care workers, we are getting needles in arms as quickly as possible and have now administered over 2.6 million vaccines,” said Premier Ford.
“As soon as vaccines arrive our focus is turning to the communities hit hardest by COVID-19 and those with the highest-risk health conditions.
“With the extraordinary work of Team Ontario we aim to deliver over 9 million vaccinations across Phase Two is focused on age and at-risk populations to prevent further death, hospitalization and transmission. To support this, Ontario is increasing vaccine allocations to COVID-19 “hot spot” communities across 13 public health units, targeting historic and ongoing areas with high rates of death, hospitalization and transmission.
Delivering vaccines to people who live in these areas is critical and the Ministry of Health is working with public health units to ensure timely access to vaccines among the identified communities through all available vaccine delivery channels, including pharmacies, mass vaccination clinics, and mobile teams.
In addition, individuals with the following highest-risk health conditions are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination:
• Organ transplant recipients;
• Hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients;
• People with neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised (e.g., motor neuron disease, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis);
• Haematological malignancy diagnosed less than one year ago;
• Sickle cell disease;
• Kidney disease eGFR< 30; and
• Essential caregivers for individuals in the groups listed above. Patients with the specific health conditions listed above, as well as their essential caregivers will be identified for vaccination due to an increased risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19, regardless of age.
The province is expecting to reach the majority of this group through hospital clinics by the end of April 2021. Patients in the highest-risk clinical groups will be contacted by their health care providers to set up an appointment for a vaccination.
On March 15, Ontario launched its provincial booking system and call centre to support COVID-19 vaccination appointment bookings at mass immunization clinics. The system has already supported the immunization of other groups identified in Phase Two, including individuals aged 70 and over, with many public health units using the provincial booking system to offer appointments to individuals aged 60 and over beginning on April 7, 2021, at 8:00 a.m. Public health units that are currently not on the provincial booking system and wish to use the system will continue to be onboarded throughout the month.
Other groups that will become eligible as part of Phase Two include:
• Individuals with specific health conditions, as well as some primary caregivers;
• People who live and work in congregate settings and some primary caregivers; and,
• Workers who cannot work from home (e.g., elementary/secondary school staff, food manufacturing workers, high-risk and critical retail workers, and more).
• As of April 5, 2021, at 8:00 p.m., over 2,621,000 vaccine doses have been administered across the province, with over 85 per cent of Ontario residents aged 80 and over having received at least one dose. More than two-thirds of residents aged 75 to 79 have now received their first shot. Over 322,000 Ontarians are fully immunized, including 92 per cent of long-term care residents.