Province rolls out next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations

Retired General Rick Hillier speaks to the media at Queens Park in Toronto, January 13, 2021. Image courtesy CPAC.

Millions more Ontarians will soon have a chance to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Retired General Rick Hillier, chairman of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force, joined Premier Doug Ford at Queens Park Wednesday afternoon to announce the start of the second phase of the vaccine rollout. By the end of phase two in July of this year, the province hopes to have 8.5-million Ontarians vaccinated, or roughly half the province’s population.

Groups that will be included in phase-two of the vaccine rollout include the following.

-Older adults, beginning with those aged 80 and older, then decreasing in age in five-year increments as the rollout progresses.
-People who live and work in high-risk settings where large groups are more likely to be.
-Front-line essential workers such as police officers, firefighters, paramedics, teachers, and those working in food processing.
-People already suffering from high-risk chronic conditions, and their caregivers.

Hillier said the province continues to push to get the vaccine into the arms of healthcare workers and the most vulnerable.

“We have ramped up the capacity, the flow of vaccines, through the 19 hospitals that are running vaccination clinics,” said Hillier.

His comment was echoed by the Premier.

“We now have a well-oiled machine, led by General Hillier, and we are making tremendous progress,” said Ford. “We know this second phase will be an even larger logistical undertaking than the first. That’s why we’re ramping up our capacity on the ground to ensure these vaccines are administered quickly, beginning with the people who need them most.”

Phase-one vaccination is due to be finished in the province’s four biggest COVID-19 hotspots, including Windsor-Essex, by January 21, with all of Ontario’s long-term care homes covered no later than February 15.

So far, the vaccine has been given out in 196 locations across Ontario. Over 144,000 doses have already been administered. The first shipment of the Moderna vaccine was provided to those most at-risk at long-term care homes in Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, and Windsor-Essex, with the ultimate goal being to vaccinate all long-term care residents and employees.

Ford also reminded Ontarians that the stay-at-home order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, meaning people should not leave their homes for any reason other than visiting an essential business like a grocery store or pharmacy, attending doctor’s appointments, or going into work when working from home is not possible.