The Ontario government has developed a three-phase implementation plan to receive, store and administer COVID-19 vaccines to Ontarians as soon as they are received.
Provincial officials say Phase One will begin on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 with a pilot project in Toronto and Ottawa which will include the vaccination of over 2,500 health care workers with the Health Canada approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Meanwhile, the active COVID-19 case count in Chatham-Kent has dropped to 33.
Ontario begins rollout of COVID-19 vaccine
Details were provided on Friday, December 11, 2020 about the implementation plan by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force.
“We are ready to receive these vaccines as soon as they become available thanks to the excellent work of our health care officials and General Hillier and the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force,” said Premier Ford in a media release.
“We have one of the most robust and comprehensive plans in the country and I am confident that all the necessary security measures and the advanced logistics systems are in place. The progress we are making is a welcome sign, but we must continue to be vigilant and follow the public health guidelines until vaccines are widely available.”
As part of Phase One, Ontario will be participating in a COVID-19 vaccine readiness pilot in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Pfizer-BioNTech, Provincial officials say.
Two pilot sites at University Health Network in Toronto and The Ottawa Hospital will receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to health care workers who are providing care in hospitals and long-term care homes.
This pilot will help inform the province’s preparedness plan to receive larger vaccine quantities as it moves forward in Phase One, providing the opportunity to test the logistics of delivery, reconstitution of the vaccine, clinic management, and post-vaccine surveillance, Provincial officials say.
The pilot also affords the opportunity to learn from the experiences of those being immunized so lessons learned can be shared with sites that will receive the vaccine in the coming weeks and months.
The two locations were selected for the pilot because this will test the travel logistics in two different regions of the province, Provincial officials say.
In addition, these sites already have the equipment necessary to safely store the Pfizer vaccine at -70 degrees and the trained staff to handle the vaccine.
Since this vaccine cannot be transferred beyond the initial delivery location at this time, vaccinations will be administered to health care workers in high-risk areas such as long-term care and critical care units in the Toronto and Ottawa regions, Provincial officials added.
“Keeping everyone safe is our top priority and this vaccine is Health Canada approved and ready to be administered,” said Minister Elliott in a press release.
“By vaccinating and protecting people who provide essential care in hospitals and long-term care homes, we will decrease the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in these settings. Thank you to our frontline heroes, volunteers, and to all the researchers who made this vaccine possible. As we continue to receive more doses, we will ensure that every person who wants a vaccine will receive one.”
Phase One will continue with the following key milestones:
– Based on per capita allocations, an expected 90,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses received from the federal government will be delivered to up to 14 hospital sites in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones in December, to vaccinate health care workers in hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and other congregate settings caring for seniors.
– Deliveries of an expected 35,000 to 85,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, once approved, will enable vaccinations to be expanded to long-term care homes in the Grey-Lockdown areas.
– In early 2021, expansion of additional hospital sites providing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones, with continued vaccination provided to health care workers and, with the appropriate safety protocols, to long-term care home and retirement home residents.
– It is anticipated that by end of January over 20 hospitals across the province will be administering the Pfizer vaccine.
– An expansion of the number of locations to administer the Moderna vaccine would include long-term care homes, retirement homes, public heath units, other congregate care settings for seniors, and remote Indigenous communities.
Provincial officials say when an increased stockpile of vaccines becomes available to Ontario, the province will shift to Phase Two of its vaccination implementation plan, which is expected to begin later in the winter of 2021.
During Phase Two, vaccinations will be administered to health care workers, as well as to residents in long-term care homes and retirement homes, to home care patients with chronic conditions and to additional First Nation communities and urban Indigenous populations, including Métis and Inuit individuals.
Ontario will enter Phase Three when vaccines are available for every Ontarian who wishes to be immunized, Provincial officials say.
While vaccines will not be mandated, during Phase Three, people will be strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.
“The launch of Ontario’s three-phase vaccine implementation plan is a vital milestone in our ongoing work to keep Ontarians safe and overcome these unprecedented times,” said Solicitor General Jones in a media release.
“This limited rollout in Toronto and Ottawa will allow us to test our process as we prepare for the increased availability of vaccines from the federal government.”
General Hillier said in launching the vaccine distribution plan in three phases, they are able to test and refine the logistics involved “to better ensure success in this massive undertaking.
“The members of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force will closely monitor and assess the pilot project and provide recommendations for the next phases,” General Hillier stated in a media release
As the province prepares to rollout its phased vaccination program and head into the holiday season, it remains critically important that all Ontarians continue following public health advice to protect our communities and most vulnerable populations, and to stop the spread of COVID-19, Provincial officials added.
Current status in Chatham-Kent
The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit updated their ‘current situation’ page, which provides a summary of COVID-19 cases and testing in Chatham-Kent, on Friday, December 11, 2020.
The total number of cases has increased to 543, while the active case count dropped to 33.
A long-term care outbreak, which was declared at Riverview Gardens on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, remains active.
25 of the active cases are linked to close contact, four are unknown, two cases have information pending, one is linked to travel and one is linked to the outbreak at Riverview Gardens.
CK Public Health officials say one person from Chatham-Kent is currently hospitalized with COVID-19.
To date, 507 people have recovered from the virus in Chatham-Kent, while three people have died.
A total of 47,792 tests for the virus have been completed to date.
The Municipality of Chatham-Kent is remaining in the ‘Yellow-Protect’ tier of the Province of Ontario’s Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, Provincial officials announced on Friday, December 11, 2020.
Public health officials are encouraging people to continue following these public health measures:
More details about the ‘Yellow-Protect’ tier can be found, here.
To view the full ‘current situation’ page from CK Public Health, click here.
For more information about COVID-19, residents are asked to visit
http://www.ckpublichealth.com/covid19 or call the CK Public Health COVID-19 intake line at 519-355-1071 ex. 1900.