Ontario says it’s slightly slowing the pace for some COVID-19 vaccinations in response to a shipping delay from drugmaker Pfizer BioNTech.
Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams says the company’s decision to temporarily delay international vaccine shipments will likely have an effect on the province, though the full impact of the move is not yet known.
Williams says long-term care residents, caregivers and staff who already received their first dose of Pfizer’s vaccine will receive their second dose between 21 and 27 days later, no more than a week longer than originally planned.
He says the timetable will be longer for anyone else receiving the Pfizer vaccine, with second doses being delivered anywhere from 21 to 42 days after the initial shot.
The adjustments come as Ontario reported 3,056 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, along with 51 new deaths related to the virus.
Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 stand at 1,632, with 397 patients in intensive care.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said Toronto and the neighbouring regions of Peel and York continue to post the highest infection rates in the province. She said 903 of the most recent diagnoses were found in Toronto, with 639 in Peel and 283 in York.
Some of those regions are among those targeted by a government blitz of big box stores which got underway on Saturday.
The province said earlier this week it would send 50 inspectors to stores in five regions — Toronto, Hamilton, Peel, York and Durham. They’ll be looking to ensure the retailers are complying with the province’s tightened public health rules, which went into effect on Thursday along with a provincewide stay-at-home order meant to curb the spread of the virus.
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton has said inspectors will focus on compliance with masking and physical distancing rules, as well as other health guidelines.
He said they’ll have the authority to temporarily shut down facilities found to be breaching the rules, and to disperse groups of more than five people.
The minister said inspectors will also be able to issue tickets of up to $750 to management, workers or customers if they’re not abiding by the measures.
Premier Doug Ford, who has faced criticism for allowing big-box stores to remain open for on-site shopping while smaller businesses are restricted to curbside pickup or online sales, vowed this week to crack down on big lineups and other infractions at large retailers.