“Ontario continues to ramp up our vaccine rollout, and we remain focused on administering doses to those who are most at risk,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “With an increased supply of vaccines, we continue to make it easier than ever to receive a vaccine in hot spot areas to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect our hospital capacity.”
To help decrease COVID-19 transmission and hospitalizations, the Ontario government committed to allocating 50 per cent of vaccine shipments (over 500,000 doses) during the weeks of May 3 and May 10, 2021 to hot spot communities, as identified by postal code. As of May 11, at 8:00 p.m., this targeted rollout has allowed over 54 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over, who live or work in a hot spot to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Hot spot communities now have a higher vaccine coverage rate than non-hot spot communities, reversing the trend over the past two weeks.
Across all public health units, the government is continuing to expand eligibility and access to the vaccine through channels such as mass vaccinations sites, hospital clinics, primary care settings and pharmacies.
Beginning on May 13, 2021, at 8:00 a.m., the province will expand booking eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine appointments at mass immunization clinics to individuals aged 40 and over, through the provincial booking system and call centre or directly through public health units that use their own booking system. As of May 11, eligibility through the provincial booking system has also extended to individuals with at-risk health conditions and Group Two of people who cannot work from home.
On May 10, the province added high-risk health care workers to the list of those eligible to book their appointment to receive a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine earlier than the extended four-month dose interval. High-risk health care workers will be able to book an appointment starting as early as May 14 to receive their second dose of the vaccine through hospital clinics where they received their first dose, with timing dependent on supply availability. The government is working with public health units and hospitals on a plan to ensure that all high-risk health care worker second doses are completed as soon as possible, while ensuring that already-scheduled first dose appointments are respected.
Mobile units began operating clinics at small and medium-sized workplaces in York, Toronto and Peel on May 7, with over 3,000 doses administered to date to employees who cannot work from home. In the upcoming weeks, the mobile units will visit workplaces that support the food supply chain, manufacturing, transit and postal services, and are expected to administer a first dose of the vaccine to thousands of workers.
Employer-led workplace clinics continue to run in Peel Region, supplementing the capacity of the publicly run vaccination clinics, for workers who cannot work from home. Additionally, a workplace vaccination program will be completed at Bruce Power this week in Grey-Bruce Region. This is a critical facility in terms of electricity supply in Ontario and is a global supplier of medical isotopes used in personal protective equipment (PPE) sterilization.
In addition, by the end of this week, select pharmacies in all 13 hot spot public health unit regions will begin administering Pfizer or Moderna to individuals 18 years of age and older in hot spot areas and to individuals aged 40 and over in non-hot spot areas. Further expansion of the pharmacy channel will continue throughout the month, with 2,500 locations to begin offering the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the end of May. The primary care delivery channel will also continue to expand in collaboration with public health units, with the goal of having primary care settings in all public health regions begin offering the Moderna vaccine by the end of May.
“By expanding eligibility, increasing immunization access through multiple channels and a steady vaccine supply coming into the province, we are advancing steadily toward our goal of administering first doses to over 65 per cent of Ontario adults by the end of May,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “In partnership with local public health units, we continue to expand opportunities for more Ontarians to get vaccinated with the ongoing rollout of workplace clinics and mobile units, targeting hot spot areas to help stop the spread of this deadly virus.”