Ontario expanding COVID-19 immunizations to seniors, frontline workers

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Photo credit: Canadian Press

The Ontario government will immunize up to 8.5 million people before the end of Phase Two of the government’s vaccine implementation plan. 

“With Phase One of our plan well underway, we’re getting ready to expand our vaccine rollout and get more needles into arms as soon as the supply is available,” said Onatrio Premier Doug Ford.

He called the distribution process lead by retired General Rick Hillier “a well-oiled machine” saying “we are making tremendous progress.”

The province has mapped out the next steps for transitioning into Phase Two and has adopted an approach to identify the next groups to receive the vaccination starting in March. The government is also expanding the list of health care providers who can administer COVID-19 vaccines.

Phase One of the vaccine program is expected to vaccinate 1.5 million people including residents, staff, and essential caregivers of long-term care homes. It plans to have the first doses administered in all homes by Feb. 15. The vaccination of all staff and residents in long-term care homes in four areas with the highest rates of transmission, Toronto, Peel, York, and Windsor Essex, is expected to be completed by Jan. 21.

Groups eligible to receive vaccines as part of Phase Two include:

  • Older adults, beginning with those 80 years of age and older and decreasing in five-year increments over the course of the vaccine rollout.
  • Individuals living and working in high-risk congregate settings.
  • Frontline essential workers such as first responders, teachers, food processing industry.
  • Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers.

Phase Two is expected to be completed by end of July 2021 and Phase Three for the general population could begin as early as August 2021, pending availability of vaccines. Vaccination of populations in Phase One will continue until all vaccinations are complete.