The Ontario government could have COVID-19 immunity passports.
According to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, because Ontario is in Phase 1 of the vaccine delivery, options for tracking and surveillance of vaccines “is under consideration.”
“This includes exploring developing tech-based solutions while also providing for alternative options to ensure equitable access to any potential ‘immunity passport’,'” the spokesperson told Daily Hive in a statement on Tuesday.
“The COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandated for Ontarians but we do strongly suggest that people embrace the opportunity once the vaccine is approved by Health Canada.”
But it was acknowledged that providing proof of vaccination is still under discussion.
“We are in the early days and expect to have more to say in the coming weeks as vaccines are made available to more people.”
Earlier this week, Health Minister Christine Elliott has emphasized that the vaccine will not be mandatory.
But, over the weekend, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said that vaccination might allow for greater movement.
“What we can do is to say sometimes for access, or ease, in getting into certain settings, if you don’t have vaccination then you’re not allowed into that setting without other protection materials,” Williams said in a press conference.
The doctor added that proof of immunization may be mandatory in order to have the “freedom to move around” or gain access to certain settings, such as long term care facilities and hospitals, without wearing PPE.
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced 249,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will be delivered in December, with the first shipment coming next week. But it still needs to be approved by Health Canada.
The vaccine needs to be stored at -70°C making it a “logistical challenge.”
The provincial government also announced yesterday the groups receiving the vaccine doses in the first few months of the Ontario immunization program. They will include:
- residents, staff, essential caregivers, and other employees of congregate living settings (e.g., long-term care homes and retirement homes) that provide care for seniors, as they are at higher risk of infection and serious illness from COVID-19;
- healthcare workers, including hospital employees, other staff who work or study in hospitals, and other healthcare personnel;
- adults in Indigenous communities, including remote communities where risk of transmission is high; and
- adult recipients of home healthcare.
According to the province, the rollout of the vaccine will be prioritized in regions with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection, including those in the Red-Control and Lockdown zones. The immunization program will focus on healthcare workers and the most vulnerable populations in those regions.