The Ontario government has released further details of its COVID-19 vaccination plan that now specifies vaccinating people over 80 years old.
In documents released Wednesday, the government said older adults — those aged 80 and older, and then decreasing in five-year increments to 75, 70, 65 and so on — will be prioritized in Phase 2 over the course of the three-phase vaccine rollout.
Ontario said Phase 2 could overlap with Phase 1 and “adults 80 may begin in parallel or before low-risk health care worker vaccination.”
Phase 1 in the vaccine distribution plan includes all residents, staff and essential workers in congregate settings for seniors such as long-term care and retirement homes as well as health care workers, adults in First Nations, Metis and Inuit populations, and adult chronic home care recipients.
The first phase is already underway after vaccinations began mid-to-end of December and is expected to last until the end of April.
Phase 2 in the vaccination plan includes the specific age groups for seniors, as well as:
- Those living and working in other high-risk congregate settings.
- Essential workers — starting with frontline essential workers.
- Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers.
- Other populations and communities facing barriers related to determinants of health across Ontario and who are at greater COVID-19 risk (e.g. Black and other racialized populations).
Places for vaccinations are listed as being at hospitals, mobile vaccination sites, mass vaccination sites, pharmacies, clinics, primary care and strategic in-community locations, the documents indicated.
The second phase could overlap with the first phase and begin sometime in March or April and run until the end of July, depending on when the vaccine doses arrive.
“Ontario is ready to receive vaccines whenever they are available, and will shift to Phase 2 priority populations as soon as there are sufficient vaccines provided by the federal government,” the government said.
The government also said they expect to vaccinate people in all nursing homes in Ontario with at least one shot by Feb. 15.
Phase 3, which includes all eligible Ontarians who want to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, is not expected to begin until the summer specifically in August, according to the documents.
While Ontario has prioritized older adults in Phase 2 of its vaccine rollout, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has recommended that this group be included in the first stage of people to be immunized against COVID-19.
NACI recommends for the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to be offered to residents and staff in seniors congregate living settings, adults age 70 and older, health-care workers and adults in Indigenous communities where infection can have disproportionate consequences.
“All adults of advanced age should be prioritized for initial doses of authorized COVID-19 vaccines, beginning with adults 80 years of age and older, then decreasing the age limit in five-year increments to age 70 as supply becomes available,” reads NIDA’s guidance on COVID-19 vaccine prioritization, which has been published on the Government of Canada website.
The federal government has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
So far, Ontario has administered 144,784 doses among both vaccines with 8,778 people fully vaccinated with two doses as of 8 p.m. Tuesday.
According to the provincial government, inoculations have been given to:
- More than 45,000 healthcare workers in long-term care and retirement homes.
- More than 77,000 healthcare workers.
- More than 13,000 long-term care and retirement homes residents.
- An additional 20,000 long-term care, retirement home staff, residents, and essential caregivers have received Moderna vaccinations.
The province said it expects to vaccinate up to 1.5 million people by the end of the first phase and up to 8.5 million people by the end of Phase 2.
— With files from Global News’ Daina Goldfinger
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