During a visit to a mass immunization clinic in Northumberland County, Premier Ford provided an update on Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, including today’s launch of the provincial booking system for COVID-19 vaccines.
Following the update, Premier Ford responded to questions from media and committed to solving ongoing issues with the newly-launched booking system as quickly as possible.
Later this afternoon, the government announced an investment of $30 million to help the retirement home sector cover COVID-19-related costs, including hiring, training and testing staff, cleaning costs, and purchasing supplies to prevent the spread of infection.
This morning, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Michael Tibollo, and Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Indigenous Affairs, Greg Rickford, announced more than $1.5 million in annual funding to expand access to specialized mental health and addictions services in Northwestern Ontario.
Earlier, Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, and Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced an investment of nearly $5.5 million to enable the St. Lawrence Parks Commission to continue to operate and maintain historic sites, parks, and attractions during COVID-19.
Update on COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts
Today, Premier Ford visited a mass immunization clinic in Northumberland County, which will open to the public tomorrow. The clinic is one of 150 in the province to open this month.
According to Premier Ford, the province is in the process of increasing its vaccination capacity to 150,000 doses per day, dependent on supply. The Premier reiterated his call on the federal government to increase vaccine supply, noting that while Ontario will have the capacity to administer 4.8 million doses per month, the province’s current planned vaccine supply is only 1.4 million doses per month.
Launch of Provincial Vaccine Booking System
Premier Ford also provided an update on today’s launch of Ontario’s booking system for COVID-19 vaccines. As of 1:00 p.m., over 45,000 Ontarians have booked appointments through the online portal, and the telephone support line is assisting approximately 375 people per minute.
Ontarians who will be turning 80 or older in 2021 are encouraged to visit Ontario.ca/bookvaccine to book an appointment. If eligible, individuals will be able to schedule their first and second vaccination appointments.
When booking an appointment online, individuals will be asked for information from their Ontario health card (green cards only), birth date, postal code, email address, and/or phone number. Individuals without internet access, who have a red and white health card, or who require assistance may call 1-888-999-6488 between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days per week.
Additional information on how the provincial booking system will be implemented in each PHU is available here.
Questions from Media
Technical Issues with Booking System
In response to questions about reports of technical issues with the province’s booking system, Premier Ford urged those who are having difficulty booking online to call the telephone support line.
The Premier added that while he had been told the roll out was “going relatively well,” he would follow up on reports of technical issues and reassured Ontarians that issues would be “ironed out immediately.”
When asked why Ontario was falling behind other provinces, who are already administering vaccines to younger age groups, Premier Ford noted that unlike Ontario, many other provinces decided not to administer double doses to residents and staff in long-term care. The Premier denied the notion that the province has “tens of thousands of vaccines sitting in freezers” and urged the federal government to increase provincial supply.
In response to questions about General Hillier’s goal of administering a first dose to all adults who want one by June 20th, Premier Ford confirmed that Ontario is prepared to meet a “mid-June” target, dependent on vaccine supply. He added that the current four-month timeline between doses will be shortened if vaccine deliveries increase, as well as once the province has access to the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Premier Ford also noted that he has asked all regions to ensure that multiple 24/7 vaccination centres are available to residents.
Vaccination Capacity in Pharmacies
During today’s media availability, Premier Ford also spoke to the capacity of Ontario pharmacies to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, noting that one of the pharmacies participating in the provincial vaccination pilot administered 500 vaccines within 24 hours. The Premier noted that if each of Ontario’s pharmacies administered 50 doses of the vaccine per day, the province would exceed its target of administering 150,000 doses each day.