No. 21/007 – March 5, 2021
The Ontario government is preparing to move into Phase Two of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan next month, with a focus on vaccinating populations based on age and risk.
With vaccine supply stabilizing and over two million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine expected from the federal government before the end of March, the province is looking to have up to 9 million Ontarians vaccinated between April 2021 and July 2021.
During Phase Two, groups that will receive the vaccine include:
- Older adults between 60-79 years of age;
- Individuals with specific health conditions and some primary caregivers;
- People who live and work in congregate settings and some primary caregivers;
- People who live in hot spots with high rates of death, hospitalizations and transmission; and,
- Certain workers who cannot work from home.
Phase One of Ontario’s vaccination rollout is already underway, with 820,000 doses administered and over 269,000 Ontarians immunized. Over 95% of long-term care residents have been fully immunized and public health units are working with long-term care homes to vaccinate staff and essential caregivers. Some local public health units have also been able to vaccinate some people over 80 before the anticipated timeframe of mid-March.
Starting March 15, the province will launch an online booking system and a provincial customer service desk to answer questions and support appointment bookings at mass immunization clinics. This will initially support individuals over the age of 80 as part of Phase One, eventually extending to more groups during Phase Two. While some public health units are currently using their own booking systems to vaccinate individuals aged 80 and over, it is anticipated that the majority of public health units will transition to the provincial booking system after it has launched.
The National Advisory on Committee on Immunization (NACI) has provided the recommendation to extend the vaccination dose interval up to four months for all Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccines. The extension of dose intervals along with the approval of new vaccines, such as the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, will help the province to reforecast and maximize the number of people receiving a first dose in a shorter timeframe, pending supply from the federal government. Ontario has accepted and will follow NACI’s recommendations starting March 10, with some limited exceptions.
As supply increases, Ontarians will have access to the three Health Canada approved vaccines in several new settings. In addition to hospitals, mobile clinics and mass vaccination clinics, the province is working with the pharmacy sector and primary care professionals to offer vaccinations in primary care and community settings. A pilot for pharmacy vaccine administration is also planned for mid-March in select regions, including Toronto, Windsor and the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington region, followed by specific primary care pilots in collaboration with public health units.
Ontario will enter Phase Three when vaccines become available for every Ontarian who wishes to be immunized. While vaccines will not be mandated, Ontarians will be strongly encouraged to vaccinate themselves against COVID-19.