Ontario says Lockdown and Red-Control regions first in line for vaccine distribution


Published December 7, 2020 at 4:45 pm

A few short hours after the federal government announced that Canada will receive 249,000 doses of Pzifer’s COVID-19 vaccine (pending Health Canada approval) this month, the Ontario government briefed residents on its rollout plan.

On Dec. 7, Premier Doug Ford and General Rick Hillier, chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, said that the province is ready to deliver vaccines to vulnerable seniors and health care workers in hard-hit regions such as Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon), Toronto, York, Halton and Hamilton.

“We must deploy these first shipments of a safe and effective vaccine where they will make the most impact and save lives. That means vaccinating our vulnerable seniors and those who care for them as soon as possible,” said Ford in a statement.

“We are working diligently with General Hillier and the task force to ensure anyone in Ontario who needs a vaccine will get one when we receive them from the federal government. Until then, we are asking people to look out for their elderly loved ones and protect themselves by continuing to follow the public health measures.”

The government said it will be prioritizing the rollout of the vaccine in regions with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection, including those in the Red-Control (York, Halton and Hamilton) and Lockdown (Toronto and Peel) zones.

Groups receiving the early vaccine doses in the first few months of the Ontario immunization program will include:

  • Residents, staff, essential caregivers, and other employees of congregate living settings (e.g., long-term care homes and retirement homes) that provide care for seniors as they are at higher risk of infection and serious illness from COVID-19;
  • Health care workers, including hospital employees, other staff who work or study in hospitals, and other health care personnel;
  • Adults in Indigenous communities, including remote communities where risk of transmission is high; and
  • Adult recipients of chronic home health care.

At first, COVID-19 vaccines are expected to only be available for non-pregnant adults over the age of 18 years old based on early clinical trials. This could change as more vaccines are approved by Health Canada.

The province says its approach is based on the guidance of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, as well as recommendations from the task force. Members, including ex-officio members, of the task force include experts in public health and immunization, health and clinical domains, ethics, behavioural science, operations and logistics, federal-provincial and Indigenous relations, and information technology and data.

“That is why, based on the guidance of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and the recommendations of our COVID-19 task force, the government will prioritize those living in long term care homes, retirement residences as well as our frontline health care workers who are so critical to our COVID-19 response,” Hillier said in a statement.

The task force is focusing on key areas such as distribution, logistics and administration, clinical guidance and surveillance, data, IT and reporting, and public education and outreach.

The vaccines are being purchased and distributed to the provinces and territories by the federal government.

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