Ontario officials have announced who will receive the COVID-19 vaccine first.
During a press conference on Monday, General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, said vulnerable populations and those who care for them would be prioritized for receiving vaccinations.
“We must deploy these first shipments of a safe and effective vaccine where they will make the most impact and save lives. That means vaccinating our vulnerable seniors and those who care for them as soon as possible,” said Premier Doug Ford.
“We are working diligently with General Hillier and the task force to ensure anyone in Ontario who needs a vaccine will get one when we receive them from the federal government. Until then, we are asking people to look out for their elderly loved ones and protect themselves by continuing to follow the public health measures.”
The groups receiving the vaccine doses in the first few months of the Ontario immunization program 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.
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“At first, COVID-19 vaccines are expected to only be available for non-pregnant adults over the age of 18 years old based on early clinical trials. As further information becomes available from clinical trials and from Health Canada approvals, the groups for which the vaccines are authorized for use could change,” said the provincial release.
As further information is made available about the various type of vaccines and availability of doses, additional details related to the implementation of the COVID-19 immunization program will be provided based on the latest medical advice and scientific evidence.
Ford also said that the province will be ready to receive “the first batch of vaccines when they arrive at our doorstep.”
Earlier 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.
Trudeau said that 14 distributions centres will be set up this week, with one in each province and territory and two in the four largest provinces.