Second vaccinations have begun in northern fly-in Indigenous communites
By Holly McKenzie-Sutter
THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO- Ontarians aged 80 and older will start receiving COVID-19 vaccines in the third week of March as the province expands its immunization campaign.
Retired Gen. Rick Hiller, the head of the province’s vaccine task force, announced a specific timeline for distributing the shots on Wednesday, noting that the schedule is dependent on vaccine supply.
An online booking system and service desk will become available on March 15 and people in that 80 and older age range or those booking for them can access it.
People will be notified through media announcements, flyers delivered to households and phone calls from local health units, Hillier said.
“They will reach out to those populations and make sure they know,” Hillier said as he detailed the estimated timeline at a news conference Wednesday.
Ontario then aims to vaccinate adults aged 75 and older starting April 15, and shots will go to those 70 and older beginning May 1.
People aged 65 and older will be vaccinated starting June 1 and those 60 and older the following month.
Vaccinations in populations considered high-risk, including Indigenous adults, will be ongoing as the province targets those age groups.
Essential workers will likely begin getting their shots in May if supply allows, Hillier said.
Some private-sector companies with large operations have offered to vaccinate their essential workers, their families and communities when the time comes and Hillier said the province intends to take up the offer.
“We will take advantage of all of it,” Hillier said.
Shots will be administered at pharmacies, mass vaccination sites, mobile units and smaller sites depending on the public health unit.
The transition to vaccinate the broader population will ramp up as the province completes its high-priority vaccinations over the next week — staff, residents and essential caregivers in long-term care homes, Hillier said. Second doses have also begun in some fly-in First Nations communities.
Vaccine supply will determine whether Ontario meets Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge that all Canadians who want a COVID-19 will have one by September, Hillier said.
“I’d love to say, yeah, you know, by Labour Day weekend we’re gonna have every single person in Ontario who is eligible and who wants a vaccine to have one. I’m a little bit reluctant to do that, because it depends on the arrival of those vaccines,” Hillier said.
“I say this, if the vaccines arrive in the numbers required, we’ll get them into the arms of the people of Ontario.”
Ontario expects to receive a more steady supply of COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks as delivery issues that previously slowed the rollout have been resolved.
Ontario reported 1,054 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and nine more deaths linked to the virus.
A total of 602,848 vaccine doses have been administered in the province so far.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021.