January 19, 2021, Premier Doug Ford and Chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, General Rick Hillier (retired), provided an update on Ontario’s COVID-19 immunization program.
In addition to today’s update, Premier Ford announced that the province had successfully achieved its goal of completing the first round of vaccinations in long-term care homes within COVID-19 hotspots ahead of the initial deadline of January 21.
Premier Ford and General Hillier were joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, Minister of Long-Term Care, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, and Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones. Following this afternoon’s update, Premier Ford and General Hillier responded to questions from media.
Update on COVID-19 Immunization Program
This afternoon, Premier Ford and General Hillier provided an update on Ontario’s rollout of its COVID-19 immunization program. Key points include:
- Over 226,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered.
- The province is capable of scaling up capacity to administer upwards of 40,000 vaccines per day.
- Ontario has successfully achieved its goal of completing the first round of vaccinations in long-term care homes in the hardest hit regions (Toronto, Peel, Windsor-Essex, and York) before January 21.
- The first round of vaccinations for long-term care homes in Durham, Ottawa, and Simcoe Muskoka has also been completed.
- Ontario was recently alerted by the federal government that work to expand Pfizer’s European manufacturing facility will reduce Canada’s allocations of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for the remainder of January and early February.
Vaccination Efforts in Long-Term Care
To date, more than 40% of all long-term care homes across Ontario have had an opportunity to receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. More than 83,000 long-term care residents, staff, and essential caregivers have been vaccinated as a result of these efforts.
According to General Hillier, Ontario is “well on the way” to meeting its second target of completing the first round of vaccinations across all long-term care homes, province-wide, by February 15. He further explained that if the province fails to hit this target, it will be due to insufficient vaccine supply, as a result of Canada’s reduced allocations of the Pfizer vaccine through early February.
Updated Direction on the Administration of Second Doses
To respond to changes in supply of the Pfizer vaccine, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has provided updated direction on the administration of second doses:
- Long-term care and high-risk retirement home residents and their essential caregivers, who have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, will receive their second dose in 21 to 27 days. Staff who were vaccinated within the homes at the same time as residents will follow the same schedule.
- All other recipients of the Pfizer vaccine must receive their second dose after 21 days and before 42 days.
- The schedule of 28 days will remain for recipients of the Moderna vaccine.
Questions from Media
Timing of Subsequent Immunization Phases
When asked whether the current delay of Pfizer vaccines would impact the timing of subsequent phases of the province’s immunization program, General Hillier reassured Ontarians that short term supply disruptions would be made up by late February or early March. As a result, Ontario expects to receive the same number of COVID-19 vaccines as originally planned in Phase One. General Hillier added that the province remains on track to begin vaccinating the general population this summer.