Premier Doug Ford announced that the province will invest $70 million in a new flu vaccine campaign and urged everyone to get the shot.
On Tuesday, the Ontario government said it is implementing the flu shot campaign to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19.
Ford told people to “please get the shot. I’ll be the first in line.”
The plan, entitled Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, sets out a series of steps to prevent, identify, and respond to any outbreak scenario this fall.
“We’ve been working through the summer to put in place a robust and comprehensive plan to tackle a potential, more challenging second wave of COVID-19,” said Ford.
“It’s important that we prepare for any scenario in order to protect all of our citizens, especially our seniors and most vulnerable. Our government is doing everything it can to defeat this deadly virus, including delivering an unprecedented flu shot campaign to maintain capacity in our hospitals.”
According to the province, the annual spread of the flu presents an additional challenge to Ontario’s response to future waves of coronavirus.
The investment is set to order 5.1 million flu vaccine doses in partnership with the federal government and other provinces and territories — 700,000 more than the approximated usage last year.
This includes 1.3 million high-dose vaccine doses for Ontario seniors, especially those with pre-existing health conditions.
The province will also prioritize early distribution of the flu vaccine for vulnerable populations in long-term care homes, hospitals, and retirement homes.
The province is also investing $26.5 million to purchase additional flu vaccine doses if required and improving access by allocating high-dose flu vaccines for seniors to participating pharmacies.
The flu campaign is one of six pillars in the Keeping Ontarians Safe plan.
The other pillars will be announced throughout the week and include continued expansion of testing and case and contact management; quickly identifying, managing and preventing outbreaks; accelerating efforts to reduce health service backlogs; preparing for surges in COVID-19 cases; recruiting, retaining, training, and supporting healthcare workers, and also continuing to engage families and caregivers.
“Our government has been working directly alongside our partners on the front lines to ensure the health system is ready to deal with any future waves of COVID-19,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott.
“While our best defence continues to be our everyday actions to stop the spread, like practising physical distancing, wearing face masks and staying home when ill, we have developed a plan that prepares us for any eventuality, including the approaching flu and cold season.”
The province noted that the flu shot will be available in the coming weeks at primary care provider offices and public health units for anyone over the age of six months, and participating pharmacies for anyone five years of age or older.