As of February 18, over 518,000 vaccine doses have been administered across the province, including over 114,000 doses administered to long term care staff and retirement home staff, over 186,000 doses administered to health care workers and over 167,000 doses administered to long term care and retirement home residents.
At the same time, the province is working with public health units to build and expand its capacity to immunize Phase Two populations by increasing delivery networks and preparing a booking solution and customer service supports for mass vaccination clinic registrations. Ontario has administered more vaccines than any other province.
Details of the vaccine rollout were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID 19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force.
“I want to assure the people of this great province that we are ready to get vaccines into as many arms as possible, we simply need the supply,” said Premier Ford. “Our Vaccine Task Force, led by General Hillier, is executing our vaccine distribution plan with military precision and we have now administered over a half a million doses. This is great progress, but we would all like to be moving faster. I urge our federal government partners to do whatever it takes to get us more vaccines so we can better protect people and eventually defeat this deadly virus.”
The unexpected reductions in supply and delayed shipments in early February forced Ontario to quickly adjust its vaccination plan to accelerate its focus on vaccinating the province’s highest risk resident populations.
When all reasonable steps have been taken to complete first dose vaccination offers to all staff, essential caregivers and remaining residents of long term care, high risk retirement homes and First Nations elder care homes, and adults in Indigenous communities, first dose vaccinations will be made available, pending supply, to the remainder of Phase One populations, including those ages 80+. Public health units are currently planning for how they will reach this group, with timing slated for early March.
The province continues to expand capacity and ramp up efforts for Phase Two of its vaccination rollout, expected to begin in April 2021. Public health units have developed plans to operate mass immunization clinics as soon as enough supply becomes available, as well as continuing to offer mobile clinics to vaccinate our most vulnerable.
Ontario is developing an online booking system to support the next phase of vaccination roll out. A customer service desk will be made available to those who are unable to book an appointment through the online tool. Details will be provided over the coming weeks.
“We are ramping up our Phase One program now that supplies are arriving again,” said General (Ret’d) Rick Hillier. “Our focus continues on our populations of highest risk, but we are also refining the systems and processes required for mass vaccinations in Phase Two. Our Ontario health care workers have done an exceptional job of completing the first 500,000 vaccinations and I want them to know that they are the real heroes of this important work.”
As the vaccination rollout continues, it remains critically important that all Ontarians stay at home as much as possible and continue following regional public health measures, restrictions, and advice to protect our most vulnerable populations and help stop the spread of COVID 19.
To protect access to second doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for those who have already received their first dose, Ontario will maintain the maximum interval of 21 27 days for long term care, retirement and First Nations elder care home resident groups. All other second dose appointments will be administered 35 days after the administration of the first dose, and no later than 42 days. These intervals are aligned with guidance provided by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).
All second doses of the Moderna COVID 19 vaccine will continue to be provided 28 days after the administration of the first dose.