The Ontario government expects to have all long-term-care residents and staff in Toronto, Peel, York, and Windsor-Essex vaccinated by the third week of January, according to medical experts who briefed the media on Tuesday morning. That accomplishment, if it comes to pass, would protect some of the people hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and could substantially reduce the number of deaths the province will see from the coronavirus going forward.
The Ministry of Health is also prioritizing the broader workforce in the health-care sector to preserve the capacity of hospitals to deal with the pandemic; adult patients receiving chronic home care; and Indigenous adults. The government will be relying on ORNGE, the air ambulance service, working in partnership with the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation to deliver vaccines and health-care workers to remote and isolated communities in the north.
As of 8 p.m. Monday, the province had partially vaccinated just over 50,000 people; it expects to receive 56,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine next week and 290,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through the month. Because the Pfizer vaccine requires more sophisticated refrigeration, the province has focused on serving people close to hospitals or those who can be brought to hospitals; the more portable Moderna vaccine will be brought directly to patients in long-term-care homes and other areas where it’s needed.
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The government is also developing protocols to use the Pfizer vaccine more flexibly, allowing it to be used farther away from hospitals without endangering its effectiveness. A pilot project is underway in Ottawa to develop the proper procedures.
Read the full briefing below.