Ford: Get your flu shot to help with 2nd wave of COVID-19

Premier Doug Ford addresses the media on September 22, 2020

Premier Doug Ford is giving Ontarians a better look at how the province will deal with the COVID-19 pandemic over the next several months.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ford announced the first pillar of the comprehensive fall preparedness plan to deal with a second wave of the virus, which will include the largest flu vaccine campaign in Canada’s history.

“With the number of cases on the rise, it’s clear the next wave will come at us harder than the last one… it will be more challenging than the last one because the flu season is starting soon,” said Ford.

The province will spend $70 million on the influenza vaccination campaign, which will include ordering 5.1 million flu vaccine doses. That’s an increase of 700,000 over the approximated usage last year.

The province will also be prioritizing the early distribution of the flu vaccine for vulnerable populations in long-term care homes, hospitals, and retirement homes as well as allocating high-dose flu vaccines for seniors to participating pharmacies.

“Anyone at all who wants a flu shot this year can get one,” said Ford. “I encourage everyone to please get their flu shot this year. It’s absolutely critical.”

Ford said the goal of the first pillar is to help hospitals across Ontario maintain capacity with the use of the flu shot.

“The flu shot helps reduce visits to our emergency rooms and doctors’ offices during this season,” he said. “This will help with keeping capacity in our healthcare system.”

Due to its comprehensive size and scope, Ford said the other elements of the fall preparedness plan will be revealed over the course of the next few days. The six key areas of the plan are set to address the quick identification and management of COVID-19 outbreaks, accelerating efforts to reduce backlogs in the healthcare system, preparing for surges in cases, and recruiting and training healthcare workers.

“This is a massive plan, its very robust, it’s jammed with items… if we laid it all down at once, the message isn’t going to get out to the people,” explained Ford. “So over the next few days, the plan is to roll out one, roll out another and people can comprehend it.”

Over the past couple of weeks, health officials in Ontario have reported a steady increase in daily new cases of the virus. On Tuesday,  478 were recorded in the province, with 425 new cases reported the previous day.

On Saturday, Ford called the latest figures “alarming” as he announced that the province would be decreasing the social gathering limits permitted across Ontario. Under the new regulations, 10 people are permitted for indoor gatherings and 25 people for outdoor gatherings for the next 28 days.