After days of criticism for its slower-than-expected rollout of the recently-approved Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, the provincial government has vowed to accelerate rollout in hard-hit regions such as Toronto, Peel (Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon), York and Windsor-Essex.
On Jan. 5, the province said that all residents, health care workers and essential caregivers at long-term care homes in the aforementioned regions will receive a COVID-19 vaccination by Jan. 21, 2021.
The province began its vaccine rollout in December. To date, 44 vaccine sites have been established and over 50,000 people have received the Pfizer vaccine, with more than 26,000 vaccinations administered to health care workers in long-term care homes and retirement homes, over 20,000 vaccinations administered to health care workers and nearly 1,000 vaccinations administered to residents.
Nearly 3,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine were administered to 24 long-term care homes between Dec. 31, 2020, and Jan. 3, 2021.
The province says that over 4,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine will be administered to 26 long-term care homes between Jan. 4 and Jan. 6. An estimated 2 million vaccine doses are expected to arrive throughout the winter during Phase One of the province’s vaccine implementation plan.
Over the course of the pandemic, long-term care homes have been hit particularly hard, with 2,830 long-term care residents succumbing to the virus since January 2020. According to the province’s website, 11,511 long-term care residents have contracted the virus over the last 12 months. The website says that 216 homes are currently in outbreak.
“Ontario continues to make important progress in quickly and safely vaccinating our frontline health care workers, our most vulnerable and those at greatest risk, and we continue to administer doses to thousands of Ontarians across the province,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, in a statement.
“Our Vaccination Distribution Task Force, led by General Rick Hillier, has put a plan in place to get these doses distributed and administered as quickly as possible and that plan is working.”
On Dec. 30, Ontario received nearly 53,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine from the federal government. The shipment is being used for a pilot in Toronto, York, Peel and Windsor-Essex to vaccinate residents at long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes, with the vaccine being administered at select long-term care homes within a day of receiving the shipment.
Those regions have experienced high rates of infection, with 778 new cases in Toronto, 614 in Peel Region and 213 in York Region reported on Jan. 5.
The province said it’s investing an additional $398 million during the second wave to reduce the risk of the virus from entering long-term care homes from the community.
“We are getting the vaccine to those who need it most as quickly as possible,” said retired General Rick Hillier.
“Every vaccination has the potential to save a life. Our focus is on getting the vaccines to the most vulnerable, as well as to the outstanding men and women who serve and care for our long-term care residents.”
Cover photo from The Canadian Press