The Ontario government has released a plan to guide the prioritization of COVID-19 vaccine distribution across the province.
“This ethical framework is a clear demonstration of our commitment to Ontarians to be transparent,” said Retired General Rick Hillier, Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. “We know that people are eager to get vaccinated and this framework helps ensure that we do it in an ethical, effective, and compassionate way.”
The ethical framework, developed in partnership with the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, aims to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are distributed across the province quickly, safely, and fairly.
It includes the following principles:
- Minimize harms and maximize benefits, to reduce overall illness and death related to COVID-19, protect those at greatest risk of serious illness and death due to biological, social, geographical and occupational factors, protect critical infrastructure, and promote social and economic well-being.
- Equity in the distribution of vaccines without bias or discrimination, to reduce disparities in illness and death related to COVID-19 and ensuring benefits for groups experiencing greater burdens from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Fairness, to ensure that every individual within equally prioritized groups has the same opportunity to be vaccinated, and to ensure inclusive, consistent processes that are tailored to the unique needs of Ontario’s many and varied communities when making decisions about vaccine prioritization.
- Transparency, to ensure the principles and rationale, decision-making processes and plans for COVID-19 prioritization is clear, understandable and communicated to the public.
- Legitimacy, making decisions based on the best available scientific evidence, shared values and input from affected parties including those historically underrepresented, to ensure decisions have the intended impact, and to include the participation of affected parties in the creation and review of decisions and decision-making processes.
- Public trust, to ensure decisions and decision-making processes are informed by these principles to advance confidence and trust in Ontario’s COVID-19 immunization program.
“The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force developed this framework to ensure that its feedback and recommendations are consistently guided by fundamentally important ethical values like equity, fairness and transparency,” said Dr. Maxwell Smith, bioethicist and assistant professor at Western University. “We are continuing to ensure that diverse perspectives are captured in our feedback and recommendations so that all Ontarians who want to get vaccinated against this deadly virus are accounted for.”
Ontario continues to vaccinate health care workers, vulnerable populations and those who take care of them as part of Phase One of the three-phase implementation plan.
Phase One began on Dec. 15 at two hospital sites and expanded to 17 additional sites the following week. The province is expected to receive more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech as Moderna vaccine in the new year, as well as 50,000 additional doses of the Moderna vaccine before the end of December.