Ontario to begin COVID-19 vaccinations at hospitals in Toronto and Ottawa on Dec. 15
Published Thursday, December 10, 2020 1:26PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 10, 2020 2:26PM EST
The province will begin inoculating health-care and long-term care workers at two hospitals in Toronto and Ottawa next week, Premier Doug Ford says.
With Health Canada approving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use on Wednesday, Ford says the province will begin receiving doses of vaccine in the next few days.
“Beginning Tuesday, December 15, these first doses will be administered at University Health Network and The Ottawa Hospital to health care workers who are providing care in long-term care homes and other high-risk settings.”
The Toronto vaccines will be stored somewhere in the UHN's downtown Toronto campus.
Ret. Gen. Rick Hillier, who leads the province’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, said the province will receive 6,000 doses on Monday, with Toronto and Ottawa receiving 3,000 each.
“The vaccinations are going to be rolled out in a coordinated fashion, so the teams now are working with the long-term care homes whose health care workers will be getting vaccinated first,” he said during a news conference on Thursday.
Those selected will be given an appointment to visit the vaccination site. Pfizer’s vaccine is delicate while in storage and cannot be moved easily. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada said the doses must be kept at temperatures between -60 C and -80 C until just before injection.
“We cannot move the Pfizer vaccine from where we receive it at those two sites. So, we have to have people who can come to the special vaccination site,” Hillier said.
“If Pfizer changes the characteristics and parameters about the vaccine and allows us to move it, then we would obviously go into the long-term care homes."
The Moderna vaccine, which has not been approved for use in Canada, has different characteristics and is easier to handle, Hiller said, adding that it will allow for vaccination sites to be set up at long-term care homes.
When asked why Ottawa and not Peel, which is in the lockdown level, was selected as one of the two sites, Hillier said the city was chosen weeks ago “to test the logistics chain outside of just Toronto.”
“Ottawa has gone through some tough times and recently came out of more stringent conditions,” he said.
“They have had some long-term care homes and retirement residents that have had COVID-19 visited upon them and tragic circumstances. So all those things were used to make a decision to use Ottawa as one of the first test cases.”
There is also a limited number of doses at the moment, Hillier said. That’s why he is urging residents to keep following public health measures as the vaccination program is being rolled out.
“It is going to take a while. We will get the vaccines on a schedule that is not perfect. They will arrive over a long period of time,” he said.
“We cannot vaccinate every single person on day one, so people do have to be patient.”
Hillier noted that Ontario may get 90,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of December, which he said will be rolled out to 13 hospitals that will become vaccination sites across the province.
The federal government has said Canada as a whole will receive 249,000 doses of the vaccine by the end of December.
Meanwhile, Hillier said the province is expected to get 35,000 to 85,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by the end of this month, pending its approval by Health Canada.