Ontario changing strategy to speed up vaccination of long-term care home residents
OTTAWA -- With a limited supply of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in Ontario and no new doses being delivered this week, Ontario is changing its strategy and prioritizing getting first doses to residents in long-term care, high-risk retirement homes, and First Nations elder care homes ahead of workers and essential caregivers by Feb. 5, 10 days sooner than planned, depending on supply.
Approximately 47,000 long-term care home residents have received the first dose of the vaccine with another 17,000 or 18,000 still needing it, provincial health officials said Monday, adding about 3,000 residents have refused the first dose.
There are still about 50,000 people working in long-term care homes that have yet to receive the vaccine.
Retired General Rick Hillier, who is leading Ontario's vaccine rollout said he expects the pace of vaccinations to pick up in the next two months.
“We will be ready with the increased capacity when more vaccines arrive in later February and throughout March,” Hillier said Monday.
In places that have finished vaccinating long-term care home residents, like Ottawa, excess doses may need to be moved to other regions, officials said.
According to Ottawa Public Health, the city has received 25,350 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and has administered 23,883 as of Monday morning.
Kingston’s medical officer of health said that city has already shared and is receiving vaccine doses from nearby health units including Leeds, Grenville and Lanark and Hastings Prince Edward.
“We shared when we had Pfizer, they’re sharing when they had Moderna and it’s a team-based approach to get the vaccine to those that need it the most,” said Dr. Kieran Moore.
After not receiving any Pfizer doses this week, officials said 26,325 doses are expected to be delivered the week of Feb. 1.
The province said deliveries of the Moderna vaccine remain on track and about 80,000 doses are expected the week of Feb. 1 but allocations beyond that date haven’t been firmed up.
The federal government says the September timeline to have all Canadians who want a shot vaccinated is still in play.
“That commitment to Canadians is based on a diverse and extensive vaccine portfolio that has a lot of insurance policies built into it,” Deputy Prime Minister Christia Freeland told reporters.