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Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force Updates

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash.com
Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash.com

*NOTE: We have launched this page to provide a consolidated source of information and updates to residents on the work of the provincial Ministers’ COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, and where relevant any involvement by the City of Burlington or Region of Halton in assisting with vaccination  programs.

Check back regularly for updates.

The Vaccination Program is voluntary and administered by the Province of Ontario, with help from local Public Health units — for the City of Burlington this means Halton Public Health. 

The City of Burlington is ready to assist, if needed, with facilities and logistics for any broad vaccination efforts in the Province’s rollout program through our City COVID-19 Vaccine Coordination Taskforce.

Please continue to visit halton.ca/COVID19 for the current situation in Halton and our COVID-19 Vaccine webpage for up to date information on the status of our COVID19 vaccination program.

LINK: ONTARIO’S VACCINE DISTRIBUTION IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

UPDATES

Friday, April 9, 2021:

Tuesday, April 6, 2021:

  • Province of Ontario News Release: Ontario Moving to Phase Two of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan Supporting Rollout by Postal Code in “Hot Spot” Communities
    • Today Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones announced that the Ontario government is moving into Phase Two of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, with a focus on reaching individuals in “hot spot” communities where COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted certain neighbourhoods. In addition, this phase will prioritize individuals with the highest-risk health conditions in April 2021. With a steady supply of the COVID-19 vaccine expected from the federal government, over nine million Ontarians will be offered their first vaccination between April and end of June 2021. – News Release, Backgrounder: Populations eligible for Phase 2 COVID-19 Vaccination
    • Phase Two is focused on age and at-risk populations to prevent further death, hospitalization and transmission. To support this, Ontario is increasing vaccine allocations to COVID-19 “hot spot” communities across 13 public health units (Halton is one of the 13), targeting historic and ongoing areas with high rates of death, hospitalization and transmission. Delivering vaccines to people who live in these areas is critical to reducing the impact of COVID-19 as quickly as possible, and the Ministry of Health is working with public health units to ensure timely access to vaccines among the identified communities through all available vaccine delivery channels, including pharmacies, mass vaccination clinics, and mobile teams. The province is supporting regions to vaccinate individuals aged 50 and over by postal code in these COVID-19 hot spot zones.
    • In addition, starting as early as April 6, 2021, individuals with the following highest-risk health conditions will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in Ontario:
      • Organ transplant recipients;
      • Hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients;
      • People with neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised (e.g., motor neuron disease, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis);
      • Haematological malignancy diagnosed less than one year ago;
      • Sickle cell disease;
      • Kidney disease eGFR< 30; and
      • Essential caregivers for individuals in the groups listed above.
    • The province is expecting to reach the majority of this group through hospital clinics by the end of April 2021. Patients in the highest-risk clinical groups will be contacted by their health care providers to set up an appointment for a vaccination. The Ministry of Health is working with Ontario Health, as well as networks like the Ontario Renal Network and other clinical organizations and vaccination partners, to identify and vaccinate these patients and their caregivers as soon as possible.
    • Other groups that will become eligible to receive vaccines as part of Phase Two of the Ontario immunization program include:
      • Individuals with specific health conditions which make them at high-risk or at-risk, as well as some primary caregivers;
      • People who live and work in congregate settings and some primary caregivers; and,
      • Certain workers who cannot work from home (e.g., elementary / secondary school staff, food manufacturing workers, high-risk and critical retail workers, and more).
    • Ontario continues to work with public health units to offer vaccines to remaining Phase One populations. Public health units have been directed to consider accessibility issues in their plans and have local solutions, as well as work with community partners to develop executive strategies to remove barriers to access and improve uptake in at-risk communities.
    • As of April 5, 2021, at 8:00 p.m., over 2,621,000 vaccine doses have been administered across the province, with over 85 per cent of Ontario residents aged 80 and over having received at least one dose. More than two-thirds of residents aged 75 to 79 have now received their first shot. Over 322,000 Ontarians are fully immunized, including 92 per cent of long-term care residents.
  • Question Period From Today’s Premier’s Briefing:
    • The Premier was asked to comment on the situation in Hamilton yesterday when hundreds of appointments went unfilled because the provincial booking system could not respond quickly enough to a change requested by the Hamilton Public Health Department. The Solicitor General  said that as of this morning in Hamilton people 60 and older could book an appointment. She went on to say that more people need to book appointments.
    • Is allowing teachers in Niagara to get vaccinated next week allowing people to jump the queue? The Premier did not answer this question directly instead he explained that over 88,000 people 80 and over have not yet booked an appointment. Over 108,000 people 75 to 79, over 280,000 people 70-74 and 618,000 people 65-69 have not booked appointments. He urged people to get their appointments booked. Minister Elliott, explained that the vaccination plan is based on age and risk.
    • When will you be vaccinating people who work in essential workplaces? The Premier said things would be rolled out in the coming days. Their focus is on first the most vulnerable and elderly, then people in hot spots and then high priority essential places of employment. He said they are working on a plan for teachers.
    • You keep talking about how you need more vaccines, but you can’t get appointments filled and there are vaccines sitting in freezers, why can’t this get done faster? Premier said that Ontario has more people vaccinated then anywhere else in the country. Regarding the vaccines in freezers, “what people don’t know is that we just got the 1.3 million doses two days ago.” He explained that it takes time to allocate and distribute them. “Let’s be honest with people, we need more vaccines.”
    • There have been calls to get education workers vaccinated next week, what is your response to this? The Premier said that was an option, “everything is on the table. In the next day or two we will be making recommendations.” Minister Elliott, went on to say that if you make a change you are taking (vaccine) supplies away from seniors. “We are constantly reevaluating.”

Thursday, April 1, 2021:

  • Halton Region News Release: Halton Residents Aged 60+ Can Book COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments Starting April 6
  • Ontario Expands Domestic Vaccine Manufacturing Capacity and Improves Pandemic Preparedness – News Release
    • The Ontario government is partnering with the federal government, the City of Toronto and Sanofi, a leading global biopharmaceutical and vaccines company, to expand its Ontario facility to meet growing demand for flu vaccines, boost Canada’s preparedness for future pandemics and create 300 high-quality jobs.
    • Ontario is investing $55 million through a performance-based loan, toward construction of Sanofi’s $925 million state-of-art vaccine facility to meet growing demand for flu vaccines, specifically for populations at greater risk of influenza. The company is also committing to an average of $79 million a year in research and development in Ontario or more than a half a billion dollars over the life of the agreement. Sanofi will also be leveraging leading scientists in the province giving them the industrial R&D experience that is valuable to companies.
    • The investment will enable Sanofi to bulk manufacture Fluzone® High-Dose Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine, a flu vaccine approved for people 65 years and older, at its historic Connaught site in Toronto. The facility will include industrial scale Formulation, Filling and Packaging, a key requirement for pandemic preparedness.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021:

Wednesday, March 24, 2021:

Sunday, March 21, 2021:

Friday, March 19, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s Premier’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, announced that with over 50 per cent of Ontario residents aged 80 and over having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Ontario government is expanding appointments through its online booking system to individuals aged 75 and over, effective Monday, March 22, 2021, ahead of schedule.News Release
      • Ontario began vaccinating individuals aged 80 and over in February, and launched an online booking tool and a call centre to help answer questions and support appointment bookings at mass immunization clinics. Since the provincial booking system was launched on March 15, more than 239,000 appointments have been scheduled for the first and second doses.
      • Ontario is leading the country in the total number of vaccines administered and has fully immunized more individuals than all provinces and territories combined. To date, over 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the province, including over 129,000 doses administered to long-term care home residents. Over 294,000 Ontarians are fully immunized, including over 61,000 long term-care home residents.
      • On March 16, 2021, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) expanded its recommendation for the use of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine to people 18 years old and older. In alignment with NACI’s latest recommendation and Ontario’s Ethical Framework, as of March 22, 2021, participating pharmacies and primary care settings will offer vaccination appointments to individuals aged 60 and over. Eligible Ontarians can contact a participating pharmacy directly to make an appointment. In addition, many primary care providers are directly contacting eligible patients to book an appointment.
      • The province also continues to expand the delivery channels available to administer COVID-19 vaccines, with another 350 pharmacies to be brought on board across the province in the next two weeks bringing the total to approximately 700 locations. It is expected that this number would again be doubled to approximately 1,500 by the end of April. Depending on vaccine supply, retail pharmacies could administer up to 40 per cent of all vaccinations by the end of April. Details on additional locations and the application process for pharmacy participation will be shared in the coming days. In addition, vaccinations in primary care settings will continue in collaboration with public health units.
      • For the month of March, Ontario is expecting to receive 1,454,310 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Ontario received limited allocations of the Moderna and AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD in March, with 483,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine split over three weeks, and 194,500 doses of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine received the week of March 8.
      • Ontario’s exact allocations and delivery timing for the Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccines after March are pending confirmation from the federal government and are not known at this time.
      • Vaccinations with the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine at pharmacies require an appointment to be made in advance. Eligible adults aged 60 and over (if 60 or older as of the day of vaccination or, if will be 60 or older in 2021) who are interested in booking an appointment, can visit ontario.ca/pharmacycovidvaccine to find a participating pharmacy and can contact the pharmacy to make an appointment.
    • Question Period:
      • BC has had restrictions in place since the beginning but not the lockdowns we have had in Ontario. Have you asked your team to look at what BC is doing? The Premier said comparing Ontario to BC was like comparing apples to oranges. “We have a denser population. I hear what you are saying. No one wants to open businesses more than me.” Minister Elliott, said each province is doing things differently. She said we are in a “race to get needles into people’s arms.” The variants of concern spread more quickly, which is of concern.
      • Why hasn’t Ontario been able to move quickly on vaccinations? The Premier, “we are kicking butt out there.” He did say we could have taken a different approach, we decided to give both doses to our long term care patients (other provinces did not do that). He again said the issue is with vaccine supply.
      • How concerned are you that the third wave is hitting younger people? Minister Elliott, said they are watching hospital capacity. “We’re ready for an upswing, but we are working to contain it.”
      • You said that the number of people 80 plus that are trying to book vaccination appointments has dwindled. Are you concerned about the coverage in this age group? Minister Elliott said, the response from this age group has been great. “A large percentage of people over 80 have already been vaccinated or have appointments booked.” General Hillier explained that once the bookings for an age range decrease they will begin making appointments for another age group. In the next two weeks 700 pharmacies across Ontario will be offering the AstraZeneca vaccine for those who are aged 60 and over.
      • Are you concerned that people will not want get the AstraZeneca vaccine? The Premier said, Health Canada has confirmed that it is safe and officials in Europe have also confirmed this. He went on to say, “AstraZeneca will keep you out of the hospital and will save your life.” Minister Elliott said, all the vaccines have been validated by Health Canada and NACI. “There is no causal relationship between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots.” General Hillier, “the best vaccine is the one you can get right now.”
      • When will younger co-horts be able to begin booking appointments? General Hillier said, we are currently two weeks ahead of schedule. Two weeks from now they will reassess things and if bookings have slowed down from people 75 and over they will move to the next age group.

Thursday, March 18, 2021:

Monday, March 15, 2021

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s Premier Ford briefing question period:
      • The Premier was asked several questions about the issues people are having using the Provincial appointment booking portal. Premier, over 45,000 people where able to get through an book appointments. He recommended that if people are having trouble online they should call the 1-888-999-6488 number. He said that immediately after the briefing he will “jump on this.” He said he expected a few bumps in the road with the system, but is “grateful and shocked that the system hasn’t crashed yet.”
      • Why aren’t vaccination clinics running 24/7? Premier said this is due to supply. Once we get more, some clinics will be 24/7.
      • When vaccine supply increases with the 4 month period between doses be changed? Yes.
    • Ontario Launching Provincial Booking System for COVID-19 Vaccines – News Release, Backgrounder
      • (PLEASE SEE LAST BULLET POINT BELOW REGARDING HALTON’S BOOKING SYSTEM.)
      • The Ontario government is launching a provincial booking system and customer service desk to support COVID-19 vaccination appointment bookings. The portal will be live on Monday, March 15 at 8:00 a.m. and will be accepting appointment bookings at mass immunization clinics, starting with individuals aged 80 and older.
      • Beginning today, individuals who will be turning 80 or older in 2021 (born in 1941 or earlier) and wish to make an appointment — or an individual trusted to make an appointment on their behalf — can visit Ontario.ca/bookvaccine. On this page, they will be guided to make an appointment through the provincial booking system, or their local public health unit if there is a local public health unit booking system or call centre in place. When booking an appointment, individuals will be asked for information from their green Ontario health card, birth date, postal code and email address and/or phone number. At the time of booking, eligible individuals will schedule their first and second vaccination appointments.
      • Individuals who still have a red and white health card, or who require assistance with booking, can call the Provincial Vaccine Information Line number at 1-888-999-6488 beginning on Monday, March 15.
      • At this time, vaccination appointments are only available for individuals turning 80 or older in 2021 as part of Phase One of Ontario’s vaccine distribution plan. Starting in April, the online booking tool and call centre will extend to additional age-based groups that are part of Phase Two.
      • The province is expecting a high volume of traffic to its online booking system. We know everyone is eager to receive the vaccine, but we are asking those not yet eligible to avoid accessing the booking system or calling the service desk to allow those that are eligible the opportunity to book an appointment.
      • Ontario will support its 34 public health units with the implementation of the new provincial booking system in the ways that best suit their local needs, as their unique populations and sizes result in progress at different speeds.
      • Public health units can continue to use these booking systems if their local systems meet their needs, or transition to the provincial booking system.
      • Halton Region is one of the 16 public health units using their self-established booking tool and self-established call centre.
  • OTHER NEWS
    • Small Urban GTHA Mayors welcome vaccine rollouts across communities News Release
    • GTHA Mayors and Chairs encourage all residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine when eligible – News Release
      • The Mayors and Chairs are committed to working with the provincial and federal governments to administer COVID-19 vaccines to residents across the GTHA. The federal government acquires and supplies COVID-19 vaccine, the provincial government rolls out the vaccine and sets the vaccination framework, and municipalities are committed to doing the on the ground work to get shots in arms. We are ready to ramp up our efforts as supply increases.
      • Right now, municipalities across the GTHA are focused on working with their hospital and healthcare partners to get residents 80-years-old and older vaccinated. Vaccine supply continues to be an issue which constrains our pace but prospects look brighter provided supply numbers are reliable.
      • The Mayors and Chairs strongly encourage all residents to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible and as vaccine supply allows. We recognize that the overall vaccination effort will take time and hope our residents will continue to be mindful of public health guidance including avoidance of St. Patrick’s Day parties later this week.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021:

  • Ontario News Release: Ontario Pharmacies and Primary Care Settings to Begin Offering COVID-19 Vaccinations
  • Highlights from today’s Premier briefing:
    • Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force announced that as vaccine supply increases, the Ontario government is expanding the delivery channels available to administer COVID-19 vaccines to include pharmacies and primary care settings. As of Friday, March 12, over 325 pharmacies will be offering the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine to eligible Ontarians aged 60-64, by appointment only, as part of the vaccine delivery pilot program in specific regions. – News Release
    • “We are about to achieve a major milestone in our battle against COVID-19, by the end of the day we expect to reach the one million mark for doses administered and continue to lead the country in vaccinations completed,” said Premier Ford.
    • With the arrival of 194,500 doses of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine, select pharmacies will begin booking appointments starting today, March 10, 2021, in three public health unit regions: Toronto, Windsor-Essex, and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington. The vaccine rollout will be expanded to more pharmacies in other regions of the province as supply increases.
    • All vaccinations available through pharmacies will require an appointment to be made in advance. Eligible adults aged 60-64 (as defined by year of birth between 1957-1961), who are interested in booking an appointment, can visit ontario.ca/pharmacycovidvaccine to find a participating pharmacy and can contact the pharmacy to make an appointment.
    • To ramp up capacity for vaccination, the province is working with primary care professionals to offer vaccinations in primary care settings and community locations, such as physician offices, in collaboration with public health units. This initiative will  begin in Hamilton, Toronto, Guelph, Peterborough, Simcoe-Muskoka, and Peel as of Saturday March 13, 2021. Primary care providers will not be taking appointments by request but will be contacting eligible Ontarians aged 60-64 directly to book an appointment starting today, March 10, 2021. They will only be offering the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine at this time.
    • Over 120 mass immunization clinics are planned to open this month across Ontario in addition to sites already open, increasing the province’s vaccine administration capacity to over 150,000 doses per day, dependent on supply.
    • The province will launch an online booking system and a provincial customer service desk on March 15. These supports will help to answer questions and book appointments at mass immunization clinics, starting with those over the age of 80.
    • For the month of March, Ontario is expecting to receive 1,454,310 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 483,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
    • The Premier ended the briefing by asking only people who are 80 and older, or those trying to book an appointment for someone who is 80 or older to use the online booking site and customer service lines. “Don’t panic if the site crashes on Monday.”
  • Question Period:
    • With the pharmacy rollout is there something in place to prevent people from booking more than one appointment? General Hillier, explained that the system shouldn’t allow people to book more than one appointment. But, he did say that it may not be perfect and people may find a way around it. He asked people not to clog the system by booking more than one appointment.
    • The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) did speak with Pfizer regarding moving the second dose from 21 days to 4 months. Isn’t there a risk? Minister Elliott, said they are following the NACI recommendations. Long term care home residents however will receive their second dose within 21 days. But, due to the supply she doesn’t expect that too many people will have to be extended to the 4 month period.
    • How many doses will be distributed to family doctors and how many will go to pharmacies? General Hillier, said that 29,500 doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine will go to family doctors in the pilot regions. The remainder of the first shipment will then be distributed to the 327 pharmacies, that are expected to do 40 vaccinations per day. Family doctors will be reaching out to their patients to schedule vaccinations, patients should NOT call them to make an appointment.
    • Currently Thunder Bay has the highest number of cases/capita. Is further support coming? Minister Elliott is well aware of the situation in Thunder Bay and has spoken to Minister Hajdu about it and about bringing in more support.
    • Is there enough Astra Zeneca doses to vaccinate all the 60-64 year olds in the pilot? The first shipment of Astra Zeneca is 194,500 doses. There are 1 million people in Ontario aged 60-64.

Monday, March 8, 2021:

  • Government of Canada launches Vaccine Community Innovation Challenge to support increased vaccine confidence – News Release
    • Vaccination is one of the best ways to protect against COVID-19 and other serious infectious diseases. The Government of Canada recognizes that community engagement plays a critical role in building vaccine confidence so everyone has the accurate information they need to make an informed decision on vaccination.
    • To this end, the Minister of Health, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, announced today the launch of the Vaccine Community Innovation Challenge.
    • Under the Challenge, individuals and/or groups are invited to propose creative ideas for communications campaigns that will reach groups within their communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty finalists will be chosen by an expert panel and given $25,000 to develop their ideas and launch their campaigns. A grand prize of $100,000 will be awarded to one winner at the end of the Challenge period to reinvest in the protection and promotion of public health in their community.
    • Community-driven engagement can more effectively influence vaccine confidence among communities who are underserved and have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The Challenge encourages people to help spread the word about COVID-19 vaccines and increase vaccine confidence through creative, community-driven and culturally sensitive means.
  • GTHA Mayors and Chairs Welcome Additional Supply of COVID-19 VaccineNews Release
    • The Mayor and Chairs are committed to working with their local public health units, hospitals, and community health partners to distributed COVID-19 vaccine to residents. They urge residents to obtain local information on vaccinations from the municipality in which they live, to understand there will be  differences between municipalities in a big region and that all local vaccination efforts are dependent upon vaccine supply.
    • Late last week, the Government of Canada announced additional vaccine supply would be arriving in the coming days and weeks and the Government of Ontario confirmed it would be distributing that vaccine as quickly as possible along with providing extra doses to communities hit hard by COVID-19. The Mayors and Chairs stated that as soon as that supply of vaccine is in hand, they will deliver.
    • The vaccinations work. We are already seeing the benefits of vaccinations in our long-term care and retirement homes. But they must be combined with a continued cautious approach to public health guidance and common sense as this is a battle which is not over yet.
    • During today’s meeting, the Mayors and Chairs also discussed the importance of coordinating our efforts around communications across municipalities and with the province to inform residents about the safety of the vaccines, the importance of being vaccinated when eligible, and how to get vaccinated.
    • The Mayors and Chairs expressed their gratitude for the financial assistance, including transit funding, received primarily form the Ontario Government last week.

Friday, March 5, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, March 5, 2021 – Speech
      • To date, there have been 878,391 cases of COVID-19, including 22,151 deaths and just over 29,900 currently active cases reported across Canada. Over the past week, an average of 2,866 new cases and 41 deaths were reported daily. At the same time, over 2,100 people with COVID-19 were being treated in our hospitals each day, including about 560 in critical care.
      • To date, almost 1,650 variant of concern cases have been reported across Canada, with the B.1.1.7 variant accounting for over 90 % of these to date. This includes 1,532 B.1.1.7 variants, 114 B.1.351 variants and 3 P.1 variants reported to date in Canada.
      • To date, more than 2.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Canada. Over the past week, provinces and territories have administered more than 397,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which is the highest number of vaccines administered in a single week since vaccination began in mid-December.
      • Another piece of good news today is that Health Canada has authorised Johnson and Johnson’s  single-dose Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Provincial News Release: Ontario Ready to Rollout Phase Two of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan
    • Highlights from today’s Provincial briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force provided details on how the Province will move into Phase Two of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan next month, with a focus on vaccinating populations based on age and risk. This approach is designed to save lives, protect those at risk of serious illness and to stop the virus from spreading. – News Release, Backgrounder
      • With vaccine supply stabilizing and over two million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine expected from the federal government before the end of March, the province to enter Phase Two of its vaccine rollout. Between April 2021 and July 2021, up to nine million Ontarians will be vaccinated.
      • During Phase Two, groups that will receive the vaccine include:
        1. Older adults between 60-79 years of age;
        2. Individuals with specific health conditions and some primary caregivers;
        3. People who live and work in congregate settings and some primary caregivers;
        4. People who live in hot spots (Halton Region is considered a hot spot) with high rates of death, hospitalizations and transmission; and,
        5. Certain workers who cannot work from home (the first group includes teachers, workers responding to critical events e.g. police, fire, compliance, second group includes high risk & critical retail workers (grocery and pharmacy)
      • Phase One of Ontario’s vaccination rollout is well underway, with 820,000 doses administered and over 269,000 Ontarians fully immunized. Over 95 per cent of long-term care residents are fully immunized and public health units are working with homes to vaccinate staff and essential caregivers as a priority. Some local public health units, based on local context and capacity, have been able to vaccinate some people aged over 80, before the anticipated timeframe of mid-March. By focusing early vaccination efforts on long-term care residents, combined with public health measures, Ontario has notably rapidly reduced infections and the daily death rates in long-term care homes.
      • Starting March 15th, the province will launch an online booking system and a provincial customer service desk to answer questions and support appointment bookings at mass immunization clinics. This will initially support individuals over the age of 80 as part of Phase One, eventually extending to more groups during Phase Two. While some public health units are currently using their own booking systems to vaccinate individuals aged 80 and over, it is anticipated that the majority of public health units will transition to the provincial booking system after it has launched.
      • NACI has provided the recommendation to extend the vaccination dose interval up to four months for all Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccines while maintaining a strong and sustained level of protection from the virus. This news along with the approval of new vaccines will help us to reforecast and maximize the number of people receiving a first dose in a shorter timeframe, pending supply from the federal government. Ontario has accepted and will follow NACI’s recommendations starting March 10th, with some limited exceptions.
      • In addition to hospitals, mobile clinics and mass vaccination clinics, the province is working with the pharmacy sector and with primary care professionals to offer vaccinations in primary care settings and community locations in collaboration with public health units. A pilot for pharmacy vaccine administration is planned for mid-March in select regions, including Toronto, Windsor and the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington region, followed by specific primary care pilots in collaboration with public health units.
    • Question Period:
      • When will all eligible adults get their first vaccine? General Hillier’s goal is to have the first needle in the arm of everyone who is eligible and wants one by the first day of summer.
      • Will people’s second appointment be pushed back now that second doses can be given up to four months later? General Hillier said that they will honour the appointments people have now, but starting March 10, the new timing for second doses will be in place. He said that the research has shown first doses offer a tremendous amount of protection.
      • Once everyone has their first vaccine what will life look like? Dr. Williams, “we anticipate case numbers will drop and we will see movement through the framework.” He said we will see the impact of vaccination as more people get vaccinated. “Ideally once we have everyone vaccinated we may not need a framework.”
      • General Hillier was asked to comment on vaccine wastage that has been reported. The wastage is 2/10 of 1% and is due to the characteristics of the vaccine and not because of what people are or aren’t doing at the vaccination clinics. He said the smaller syringes have helped ensure that the maximum doses are taken from every vial.
      • Family doctors have not received any guidance on the rollout. General Hillier, said the Ministry of Health has an agreement in place with the OMA. Doctors will be assisting and supporting mass vaccination clinics, mobile units and providing vaccinations at their offices. They will be receiving more information in the coming days and weeks.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021:

  • Halton Region News Release: Joseph Brant Hospital Added as Additional Vaccine Clinic for Burlington as Halton’s Online Appointment Booking Portal Opens
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Health Canada allows more flexible storage and transportation conditions for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine – Statement
      • Today, Health Canada authorized a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech to allow its COVID-19 vaccine to be stored and transported at standard freezer temperatures (between -25°C and -15°C) for up to two weeks instead of ultra-cold conditions, facilitating more flexible transportation and local re-distribution of this vaccine.
      • Vials stored at -25°C to -15°C for up to 2 weeks or transported at -25°C to -15°C may be returned one time to the recommended storage condition of -80°C to -60°C.
      • While ultra-cold conditions are still recommended for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, after conducting a thorough review of Pfizer-BioNTech’s latest submission, the Department determined that the COVID-19 vaccine remains stable when transported and stored at standard freezer temperatures for up to two weeks. This means the vaccine continues to be safe and effective and meets Health Canada’s quality standards.

Monday. March 1, 2021:

Friday, Feb. 26, 2021:

  • Health Canada approves use of AstraZeneca vaccine
  • Federal News:
    • Health Canada authorizes AstraZeneca and Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc./Serum Institute of India COVID-19 vaccines – News Release
      • Today, Health Canada authorized two vaccines; the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca, and developed in partnership with Oxford University, and, the Serum Institute of India’s version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
      • These are the first viral vector-based COVID-19 vaccines authorized in Canada. The vaccines are authorized for use in people over 18 years of age. They are administered as a two-dose regimen and can be kept at refrigerated temperatures (from 2˚ to 8˚C) for at least six months, facilitating distribution across the country.
    • Canada to receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India – News Release
      • Following Health Canada’s authorization of the AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 COVID-19 vaccine, the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, announced today that Canada has secured 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through an agreement with Verity Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc./Serum Institute of India.
      • AstraZeneca has licensed the manufacture of its ChAdOx1 vaccine to the Serum Institute. The first 500,000 doses will be delivered to Canada in the coming weeks and will quickly be ready for distribution to the provinces and territories. The remaining 1.5 million doses will arrive by mid-May.
      • The 2 million doses secured through this agreement are in addition to the 20 million doses already secured through an earlier agreement with AstraZeneca. Health Canada’s authorization of the AstraZeneca vaccine allows the Government of Canada to advance its work with AstraZeneca to finalize delivery schedules for the 20 million doses.

Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from General Hillier’s briefing:
      • Where we are now: 250,000 people have been completely vaccinated (received both doses)
      • More than 600,000 people have received one dose
      • Averaging 15,000-18,000 vaccinations/day. The process is slower because they are taking the vaccine to people.
      • They are revisiting LTC homes and high risk retirement homes to provide residents with their second dose.
      • In the first week of March they will transition out of Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout.
      • With more vaccines being delivered they will be able to complete LTC homes and restart vaccination of front facing health care professionals. Operation Remote Immunity will continue.
      • Public health units throughout the province are collaborating with pharmacies and health care professionals – they know their communities best.
      • The Province has completed the contract with pharmacies where approximately 10-20% of vaccinations will be done.
      • In the third week of  March vaccinations will begin for people 80 + years of age.
      • On March 15 they will launch the online booking portal and customer service line. Only people 80 +, or someone acting on their behalf will be able to book an appointment then. He encouraged people to support their loved ones in making their appointments online.
      • Local public health units are reaching out to 80+ people in their communities now.
      • The Province will be sending flyers to all households. They will also be communicating via briefings, PSAs, through the media and phone calls. PHUs will be communicating about how and when you can book an appointment.
      • He shared the following vaccination schedule: April 15 – 75 + will begin to get vaccinated, May 1 70+, June 65+.
      • When the online booking portal is launched only those 80+ or people acting on their behalf will be able to book appointments. You will be able to book both appointments at the same time.
      • Your postal code will be used to indicate which vaccination clinic you should attend.
    • Highlights from Premier Ford’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities announced that the Ontario government is investing over $115 million to train up to 8,200 new personal support workers (PSWs) for high-demand jobs in Ontario’s health and long-term care sectors. In collaboration with Colleges Ontario, all 24 publicly assisted colleges will offer this innovative, fully funded program starting in April 2021. This is part of the government’s Long-Term Care Staffing Plan, one of the largest PSW recruitment and training drives in the province’s history. – News Release
      • The Accelerated PSW Training Program is a tuition-free opportunity for 6,000 new students and is expected to take only six months to complete, rather than the typical eight months. After three months of coursework, and experiential learning in a clinical setting, students will complete the final three months in paid onsite training in a long-term care home or in a home and community care environment. Registration for the program will be available through the Ontario College Application Service and is expected to open in early March.
      • The province is also offering tuition assistance to students who are close to finishing an existing PSW program at one of Ontario’s publicly-assisted colleges. Nearly 2,200 students will be eligible to receive a $2,000 tuition grant to help them complete their studies, as well as a stipend to complete the clinical placement part of their training.
      • Before taking questions the Premier said that Ontario has more people fully vaccinated than the entire country does. He said the main thing holding the process back is the lack of vaccines.
    • Question Period:
      • When you compare Ontario to where province’s like Alberta are in their vaccine rollout, are we not falling behind? Premier, “we are ahead of everyone.” He went on to say that Alberta’s website went up and then crashed, and Quebec has not administered the second dose to anyone yet. “We are focussed on the task at hand.”
      • Can you tell us about the prioritization of essential workers for Phase 2? Premier, “we are focusing on the priority populations now, we are still a ways from that.” The priority now is we need more vaccines.
      • Today in Alberta, people 70 and older can book their appointment, what is the delay in Ontario? Premier, “the population in Alberta is 4 million people, in Ontario it is 16 million people. We have many more residents living in long term care homes and retirement homes than they do.” Minister Fullerton also repeated that we have more people and staff in long term care homes than other Provinces do. “We have the capacity to vaccinate, but we need more vaccines.”

Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021:

Friday, Feb. 19, 2021:

  • ONTARIO NEWS RELEASE: Ontario Administers over Half a Million Doses of COVID-19 Vaccines
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s Prime Minister’s briefing:
      • The PM said that an updated vaccine delivery schedule would be shared with Premiers
      • Vaccines are his top priority
      • Millions of rapid tests have been sent to the Provinces and Territories.
      • He spoke about a pilot program with 12 employers across the country using rapid tests
      • “What Provinces, cities and Canadians have done over the last few weeks is working, but variants are here. We must continue to follow public health measures.”
      • He is focussed on testing, vaccines and public health measures
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s Premier’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force provided an update on the Province’s vaccine rollout program. News Release
      • The Ontario government has administered over 500,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to Phase One priority populations, which now includes adults 80 years of age and older. At the same time, the province is working with public health units to build and expand its capacity to immunize Phase Two populations by increasing delivery networks and preparing a booking solution and customer service supports for mass vaccination clinic registrations. Ontario has administered more vaccines than any other province.
      • The unexpected reductions in supply and delayed shipments in early February forced Ontario to quickly adjust its vaccination plan to accelerate its focus on vaccinating the province’s highest risk resident populations. Last week, Ontario reached its target to offer a first dose of the vaccine to residents of all long-term care homes across the province and has now administered over 167,000 doses to long-term care and retirement home residents.
      • When all reasonable steps have been taken to complete first-dose vaccination offers to all staff, essential caregivers and remaining residents of long-term care, high-risk retirement homes and First Nations elder care homes, and adults in Indigenous communities, first-dose vaccinations will be made available, pending supply, to the remainder of Phase One populations, including those ages 80+. Public health units are currently planning for how they will reach this group, with timing slated for early March.
      • The province continues to expand capacity and ramp up efforts for Phase Two of its vaccination rollout, expected to begin in April 2021. Public health units have developed plans to operate mass immunization clinics as soon as enough supply becomes available, as well as continuing to offer mobile clinics to vaccinate our most vulnerable.
      • Ontario is developing an online booking system to support the next phase of vaccination roll-out. A customer service desk will be made available to those who are unable to book an appointment through the online tool. Details will be provided over the coming weeks.
      • Operation Remote Immunity, led by Ornge, is vaccinating adults in the 31 fly-in First Nations communities and Moosonee in Northern Ontario. As of February 17, 2021, over 8,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Sioux Lookout and communities within the Operation’s scope.
      • As the vaccination rollout continues, it remains critically important that all Ontarians stay at home as much as possible and continue following regional public health measures, restrictions, and advice to protect our most vulnerable populations and help stop the spread of COVID-19.
    • Question Period:
      • Can we create herd immunity without vaccinating people under 16?  Minister Elliott, said that other vaccines may be approved that will be suitable for children.
      • The Premier was asked to comment on 7-11’s application to the AGCO.  He said the AGCO is an arm’s length organization. “I want to help restaurant folks. I also believe we have to have convenience and choice. That’s our goal.” He ended by urging 7-11 to expand in Ontario and create more jobs.
      • Are you ignoring the federal modelling data by reopening? Premier, “I respectfully disagree. I never, ever ignore the advice of the medical experts. I have never waivered.” Minister Elliott, “we are not reopening the Province. We are gradually and cautiously transitioning back to the Framework.” She said that the Emergency Break is an available measure if case numbers begin to rise.
      • The PM urged restraint. Was the Federal data not available to you? The Premier, said that the reporter was misleading people by saying the Province is reopening. “You’re making it sound like we’re opening up the doors, everyone’s out there having a good time. If mayors and local medical officers or health want to shut down, they will. I will always listen to health and science and will not waiver.”
      • Is COVAXON, a good name for the online booking site? Solicitor General said that the online portal will be one way to get information about vaccines and where to book appointments. Local public health using will also be providing information.
      • When will 70-60 year olds get vaccinated? General Hillier said that all 80+ people will not be done by the end of March. The next age group will be done in April and May. “Everything depends on vaccine supply.”

Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021:

Friday, Feb. 12, 2021:

  • Canada negotiates accelerated delivery schedule for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine – News Release
    • Today, the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, announced that Canada has negotiated an accelerated delivery schedule for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, and will receive all 40 million of its secured doses from Pfizer-BioNTech by the end of September.
    • This means that Canada will receive 2.8 million additional doses of Pfizer between April and June and an additional 6.2 million doses between July and September than was originally scheduled.
    • The Government of Canada has also purchased an additional 4 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, bringing the total number of secured doses to 44 million. The additional 4 million doses are expected to arrive by the end of September.
    • Canada is now expected to receive 84-million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines by the end of September 2021.

Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021:

  • Province News Release: First Round of COVID-19 Vaccinations Completed in All Ontario Long-Term Care Homes
    • The first round of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in every long-term care home across Ontario to eligible residents who wanted one. This goal was achieved despite repeated delays and reductions of vaccine shipments. To date, more than 62,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 34,000 residents have received their second dose.
    • As the administration of second doses continues, Ontario will maintain the recommended interval of 21-27 days for residents who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021:

  • Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force Update No. 7
    • First doses of Vaccinations of Long-Term Care homes expected to be complete by Feb. 10 — as of Feb. 5, the Province has been able to offer first doses to residents in more than 80% of the homes. Read latest update below from General Hillier and the Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force:

Friday, Feb. 5, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s Prime Minister’s briefing:
      • The PM spoke today about vaccines. He assured Canadians, “we are on track to getting the 6 million doses from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of March,” as per our agreements with them.
      • He reaffirmed everyone who wants to, will get vaccinated by the end of September.
      • The presidents of Pfizer and Moderna have “assured” him that we will get all the doses we are contracted to receive.
      • He acknowledged how tired everyone is with COVID.
      • Health Canada is reviewing three other vaccines, AstraZeneca, Janseen Inc, and Novavax Inc.
      • Changes to land border crossings will be announced soon.
      • In his call with First Ministers yesterday, as Provinces look at reopening their economies, he encouraged the use of rapid testing.
      • “Our plan is working. I want to reassure everyone watching at home. From the beginning we have been there for Canadians and we will continue to be there for them.”
    • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds 26th call with premiers on COVID-19 response – Readout
      • Yesterday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc held the 26th call with Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers to discuss their shared response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • First Ministers discussed the continued vaccine rollout and Minister LeBlanc provided an update on vaccine shipments. In response to questions raised on the call, the Prime Minister assured premiers that the federal government is in regular contact with vaccine manufacturers, including Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca. He noted that he was assured that Canada would receive 2 million doses from Moderna and 4 million doses from Pfizer by the end of March, as the companies committed to in their contracts.
      • The Prime Minister emphasized that Canada has been assured by the European Union that their measures on vaccine exports will not impact vaccines destined for Canada. First Ministers also discussed the importance of further building domestic capacity for vaccine production and the approval of new vaccines by Health Canada.

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021:

  • Provincial Government News Release: Ontario Continues Accelerated Vaccinations of Most Vulnerable Despite Vaccine Delays
  • FEDERAL GOVERMNET NEWS
    • New support to produce COVID-19 vaccines and treatments in Canada – Media Release
      • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Novavax to pursue the production of its COVID-19 vaccine at the National Research Council of Canada’s Biologics Manufacturing Centre in Montréal.
      • The Prime Minister also announced investments to support vaccine, therapeutic, and biomanufacturing projects in Canada. These include:
      • Up to $25.1 million to Precision NanoSystems Incorporated (PNI), a Vancouver-based biotechnology company, to expand our ability to produce ribonucleic acid vaccines and future genetic medicines in Canada. PNI will build a $50.2 million biomanufacturing centre to produce vaccines and therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of diseases such as infectious diseases, rare diseases, cancer and other areas of unmet need.
      • Up to $14 million to Edesa Biotech Inc. (Edesa), a biopharmaceutical company based in Markham, Ontario, to advance work on a monoclonal antibody therapy for acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is the leading cause of COVID-19 deaths. Edesa’s $18.7 million project has received Health Canada approval to conduct its phase 2 clinical trials, and has begun administering its treatment to clinical trial participants in Canada.
    • Government of Canada investments in COVID-19 vaccines and biomanufacturing capacity Backgrounder
      • Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, highlighted investments to build Canada’s biomanufacturing capacity and talked about the next steps in Canada’s immediate response to COVID-19.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force provided details today about the Province’s vaccination program. – Media Release
      • Ongoing vaccine delays and reduced shipments have forced the Ontario government to update its goal of completing the administration of first doses of COVID-19 vaccines to residents in each long-term care, high-risk retirement and First Nations elder care home to February 10. Amidst these delays, vaccination teams will be distributing vaccines in First Nations fly-in communities in the north as part of Operation Remote Immunity, beginning this week.
      • Last week, Ontario developed a plan to accelerate vaccination of the most vulnerable populations across Ontario with the goal of visiting each long-term care, high-risk retirement, and First Nations elder care home in the province to administer first doses by February 5, 2021, pending this week’s delivery dates.
      • Since that time, the federal government has confirmed Ontario’s allocation of the Moderna vaccine will be significantly reduced by 18,200 doses, to 63,400 doses. With the reduced shipment anticipated to be received late this week, doses will be delivered to public health units across Ontario to ensure residents of these homes are offered their first dose by February 10, 2021.
      • The decrease in supply of the Moderna vaccine is in addition to further reductions in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments from the federal government, which resulted in no deliveries for the week of January 25, 2021, and a reduced shipment of just over 26,000 doses for the first week of February.
      • The province’s initial approach was to offer vaccination to all residents, staff and essential caregivers working at long-term care and high-risk retirement homes to provide the opportunity for best overall protection. In response to the reduction in vaccine supply, the province prioritized the vaccination of residents of long-term care, high-risk retirement and First Nations elder care homes.
      • The province is expecting approximately 310,000 doses to be delivered in the remaining weeks of February. Once sufficient doses are available, vaccinations will resume to provide first doses for staff and essential caregivers in settings with the most vulnerable populations.
      • The province also continues to protect access to second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those who have already received their first dose.
      • As of February 1 at 8:00 p.m., over 344,000 vaccine doses have been administered across the province, including over 91,000 doses administered to long-term care staff and retirement home staff, over 138,000 doses administered to health care workers and over 90,000 doses administered to long-term care and retirement home residents.
    • Question Period:
      • Could the government have saved lives (of the seniors who died in long term care homes) if they vaccinated long term care residents before health care workers? Premier, “it was our goal. But we were instructed by Pfizer that we couldn’t move the vaccine.” The Province took the approach to vaccinate the PSWs and staff of long term care homes who could come to the vaccination centres. When they did not come to get their vaccines, rather than have vaccines go to waste health care workers were vaccinated. “When we had the flexibility to move the vaccine we did. It’s tragic what happened in long term care homes.”
      • Other jurisdictions, like Quebec, moved the Pfizer vaccine. Why didn’t Ontario do this? Did you ask Pfizer if the vaccine could be moved? General Hillier, “we took the advice of the medical professionals and pharmacists who were working with Health Canada and Pfizer.” He said they didn’t have permission from Pfizer until January to move the vaccine.

Monday, Jan. 25, 2021:

Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021:

  • Halton Region Council calls upon Federal Government to speed up delivery of COVID-19 vaccines
  • Highlights from Premier Ford’s briefing today:
    • The Premier spoke with Israeli officials today about their vaccination roll out. They have been recognized for the effective mass vaccination roll out. Predictable vaccine supply is critical.
    • Adjustments to the Province’s vaccination program were announced today. The adjustments are being made following notification by the federal government of reductions in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments. – Media Release
    • The Ontario government is accelerating the vaccination of residents in long-term care, high-risk retirement, and First Nations elder care homes by a new target date of February 5, 2021. To protect access to second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those who have already received their first dose, Ontario will maintain the maximum interval of 21-27 days for long-term care, retirement and First Nations elder care home resident groups and up to 42 days between the two doses for all other groups.
    • On January 19, 2021, the federal government notified the province of further reductions in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments. Ontario will not receive vaccine deliveries for the week of January 25, 2021 and will receive just over 26,000 doses for the first weeks of February. As of today, Ontario has not been provided its allocation for the weeks of February 8, 2021 and February 15, 2021, creating further uncertainty for the province’s vaccine rollout.
    • In response to the significant reduction in distribution by the federal government and the uncertainty of future shipments, the province and vaccination sites have worked together to develop a plan to accelerate vaccination of the province’s most vulnerable. Second doses will continue to be administered based on availability of supply provided by the federal government. Actions being taken include:
      1. Accelerate vaccination of the most vulnerable populations across Ontario with the goal of visiting each home in the province to administer first doses by February 5, 2021, pending week of February 1, 2021 delivery dates.
      2. Doses of the Moderna vaccine will be reallocated to 14 public health units to ensure vaccines are administered at each long-term care home in the province.
    • The government is ready to administer the COVID-19 vaccine and expand the number of vaccination sites as soon as doses are received. Ontario has capacity to vaccinate nearly 40,000 people per day and is building capacity to triple or quadruple that capacity pending federal government supply.

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021:

  • Ontario Achieves Key Milestone with Vaccinations in Long-Term Care — Residents and Workers in Seven Regions Immunized Ahead of Schedule
  • Highlights from today’s Premier briefing:
    • Ontario has reached a key milestone in the fight against COVID-19, completing the first round of vaccinations ahead of schedule in all long-term care homes in Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex, the four regions with the highest COVID-19 transmission rates. The first round of vaccinations has also been administered at all long-term care homes in the Ottawa Public Health Region, Durham Region and Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.  – Media Release
    • To date, more than 40 percent of all long-term care homes across the province have had an opportunity to receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 83,000 long-term care residents, staff and essential caregivers have been vaccinated.
    • Progress continues to be made with the goal of administering vaccines in all long-term care homes across the province by February 15, 2021.
    • As part of Phase One of its vaccine implementation plan, Ontario will continue to focus on vaccinating vulnerable populations, and those who care for them, as more supply becomes available. On January 15, the province was alerted by the federal government that due to work to expand its European manufacturing facility, production of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine will be impacted and Canada’s allocations of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the remainder of January and early February will be reduced.
    • To respond to this change in supply of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has provided updated direction on the administration of second doses:
      1. Long-term care and high-risk retirement home residents and their essential caregivers, who have received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, will receive their second dose in 21 to 27 days.
      2. Staff who were vaccinated within the homes at the same time as the residents will also follow the same schedule.
      3. All other recipients of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine must receive their second dose after 21 days and before 42 days.
      4. For individuals who received the Moderna vaccine, the dose schedule of 28 days will remain.
    • The province’s vaccine strategy prioritizes the most vulnerable populations first, including residents of long-term care homes and retirement homes in regions with high COVID-19 transmission rates, who are at higher risk of contracting the virus.
    • As of January 19 at 12:00 p.m., over 226,000 doses have been administered across the province.

Friday, Jan. 15, 2021:

Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021:

  • Statement from the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health:  Implementing COVID-19 Vaccination in Canada — Vaccine Dose Interval – Statement
    • Provinces and territories are in the process of vaccinating Canadians safely and rapidly, as supply becomes available from manufacturers, beginning with groups at greatest risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death, as well as health care providers who care for these high-risk individuals and are key to protecting the integrity of our health care systems.
    • Canada, like other countries, is in the midst of a pandemic surge – COVID-19 cases are rising, healthcare system capacity is profoundly stretched in some places, and the risk of severe illness and death is growing. Faced with this reality, along with current constraints in vaccine supply, and the imperative to rapidly vaccinate as many high-risk people as quickly as possible, public health authorities are examining options, including potentially delaying the second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
    • This option is being considered only when necessary in order to give more high-risk people earlier access to vaccine in jurisdictions where the number of cases are rising rapidly and threatening the health care system’s ability to keep up. Extending the interval between the doses maintains the 2-dose requirement approved by Health Canada while allowing some flexibility to more rapidly protect high-risk individuals and their health care providers in areas with surging COVID-19 cases.
    • The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) addresses the question of delaying the second dose of vaccine in their updated Recommendations on the use of COVID-19 Vaccine.
    • NACI advises that while the second dose should be given according to the approved schedule if possible, jurisdictions may consider delaying the second dose due to logistic or epidemiologic reasons until further supplies of the vaccine become available, preferably within 42 days (6 weeks) of the first dose.
    • In their expert view, this interval increase is expected to yield similarly high protection seen with second dose administration at 21 or 28 days after the first dose. This is consistent with recommendations released on January 8, 2021 by the World Health Organization that provides flexibility to extend the dose interval up to 42 days in circumstances of vaccine supply constraint and high disease burden.
    • The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021:

Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021:

Friday, Jan. 8, 2021:

Update from General (Ret’d) Rick Hillier, Chair of COVID-19 Distribution Task Force.
Highlights:

  • Accelerated Long-Term Care Home Vaccination Plan launched. Four public health units (Toronto, York, Peel and Windsor-Essex) are piloting the administration of the Moderna vaccine and are accelerating their vaccination plans at 161 long-term care homes. the goal is to offer all residents, caregivers and staff who have not been vaccinated, the vaccine, on-site, by January 21, 2021.
  • 91,000 Ontarians vaccinated to date

Links:

Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021:

Monday, Jan. 4, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT RELEASE: Ontario Releases Ethical Framework for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
    • The Ontario government has released an Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution which was developed in partnership with the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force to guide further vaccine prioritization and distribution across the province. The province continues to vaccinate vulnerable populations and those who care for them through Phase One of its three-phase implementation plan as additional vaccines become available.
    • Phase One of Ontario’s three-phase vaccine implementation plan began on December 15, 2020 at two hospital sites, and increased to 17 additional sites the following week, with the delivery of 90,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses. With Health Canada’s recent approval of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the province can expect about 50,000 additional doses before the end of the month.
    • The Ethical Framework includes the following principles to guide COVID-19 vaccine distribution:
      • Minimize harms and maximize benefits, to reduce overall illness and death related to COVID-19, protect those at greatest risk of serious illness and death due to biological, social, geographical and occupational factors, protect critical infrastructure, and promote social and economic well-being;
      • Equity in the distribution of vaccines without bias or discrimination, to reduce disparities in illness and death related to COVID-19, and ensuring benefits for groups experiencing greater burdens from the COVID-19 pandemic;
      • Fairness, to ensure that every individual within equally prioritized groups has the same opportunity to be vaccinated, and to ensure inclusive, consistent processes that are tailored to unique needs of Ontario’s many and varied communities when making decisions about vaccine prioritization;
      • Transparency, to ensure the principles and rationale, decision-making processes and plans for COVID-19 prioritization are clear, understandable and communicated to the public;
      • Legitimacy, making decisions based on the best available scientific evidence, shared values and input from affected parties including those historically underrepresented, to ensure decisions have the intended impact, and to include participation of affected parties in the creation and review of decisions and decision-making processes; and
      • Public trust, to ensure decisions and decision-making processes are informed by these principles to advance confidence and trust in Ontario’s COVID-19 immunization program.
    • Ontario has launched a new webpage detailing the province’s three-phase immunization program, information on COVID-19 vaccines, safety measures and approval standards, as well as daily updates on the number of Ontarians vaccinated.
    • The province will shift to Phase Two of its vaccination implementation plan, which is expected to begin later in the winter of 2021, when more vaccines become available to Ontario. During Phase Two vaccinations will continue for health care workers, long-term care homes, retirement homes, home care patients with chronic conditions, and additional First Nation communities and Indigenous populations, including Métis and Inuit individuals. The task force will use the Ethical Framework and the best available data to identify further priority populations within this phase, based on available vaccine supply.

Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020:
Update from General (Ret’d) Rick Hillier, Chair of COVID-19 Distribution Task Force: Moderna vaccine approved, Priority Distribution based on Ethical Framework:

Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020:

Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020:

Friday, Dec. 18, 2020:

  • Halton Region launches COVID-19 Vaccine updates webpage
  • Ontario Expands COVID-19 Vaccine Locations
    • Ontario will be distributing additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine to 17 more hospital sites over the next two weeks, including regions with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection. This is part of the initial phase of the government’s three-phase vaccine implementation plan that began on December 14 with the initial vaccinations administered at Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN), followed by the launch of the pilot project at UHN and The Ottawa Hospital on December 15.
    • Ontario is expecting to receive up to 90,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses from the federal government before the end of the year to continue vaccinating health care workers and essential caregivers who work in hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and other congregate settings caring for seniors. To prepare for the rollout of these next shipments, the following 17 hospital sites will be receiving the vaccine in addition to UHN and The Ottawa Hospital:
    • Windsor Regional HospitalLondon Health Sciences Centre
      Grand River HospitalHalton Healthcare
      Hamilton Health SciencesWilliam Osler Health System
      Trillium Health PartnersSouthlake Regional Health Centre
      Mackenzie HealthHumber River Hospital
      Sunnybrook Health Sciences CentreToronto East Health Network
      Unity Health TorontoScarborough Health Network
      Lakeridge HealthRoyal Victoria Regional Health Centre
      Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
    • We are all part of the same public health region and residents throughout Halton will be eligible for this vaccine. There needed to be a single distribution point initially, and that is Oakville Trafalgar, but distribution isn’t limited to Oakville residents.
      • The vaccine will be distributed across the Halton Public Health Unit which includes all four  municipalities: Burlington, Oakville, Milton, Halton Hills.
    • All of these sites already have the equipment necessary to safely store the Pfizer vaccine at -70 degrees and the required staff are ready to receive and administer vaccines. Since this vaccine cannot be transferred beyond the initial delivery location at this time, vaccinations will continue to be administered to health care workers in high-risk settings first, such as long-term care homes and hospitals. Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre was selected to test the travel logistics in Northern Ontario and support the administration of the vaccine to Indigenous and remote communities.
    • The province’s decision to identify key populations to receive the vaccine first is based on the advice of medical experts and ethicists, and recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and aligned with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s recommendations.
    • The province will shift to Phase Two of its vaccination implementation plan, which is expected to begin later in the winter of 2021, when more vaccines become available to Ontario. During Phase Two, vaccinations will be administered to health care workers, as well as to residents in long-term care homes, retirement homes, home care patients with chronic conditions and additional First Nation communities and urban Indigenous populations, including Métis and Inuit individuals.

Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020:

  • Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Update: Vaccine Rollout Planning and Coordination
    • Some municipal CAOs/senior staff are reaching out now to their hospitals and public health units within their public health unit regions to set up vaccine rollout regional planning and coordination tables. These efforts can support the limited Phase 1 process now underway and help prepare for future steps in the vaccine rollout. Municipal staff may be able to assist in a number of ways such as public communications, providing facilities, aiding in transportation, managing parking and traffic control.
    • There will be a number of unexpected issues that arise throughout this distribution process and working together will allow quick local and coordinated problem solving and operational action when needed. We encourage the municipal sector to reach out now and assist your public health and health care partners to make 2021’s vaccine distribution process as well planned, transparent, and seamless as is possible.
    • The Phase 1 vaccine rollout out is occurring only in hospitals right now given the -70 C freezer requirement but with the word today that the more mobile Moderna vaccine is likely to be here by the end of December, more regional planning and coordination will be necessary between the public health units, the hospitals and the municipal sector.
  • Canada to receive early access to Moderna COVID-19 vaccineMedia Release
    • Today, the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, announced that following successful negotiations and contingent on Health Canada authorization of the vaccine, Canada will be able to access 168,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020.
    • These are part of the guaranteed 40 million doses, and up to a total of 56 million doses, that Canada has secured through its existing agreement with Moderna. As with all COVID-19 vaccine candidates, the Moderna vaccine must be authorized by Health Canada before being administered to Canadians.
    • The Government of Canada will continue to conduct dry-run exercises to confirm ordering and shipping processes for additional vaccines as they become available. These dry-run exercises are important to ensure that the Provinces and Territories have the necessary infrastructure and equipment in place and are able to plan to effectively and efficiently administer COVID-19 vaccines as they roll-out.
    • Moderna submitted an application for regulatory review of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate under Health Canada’s interim order on October 12, 2020. Results of this review are expected soon.  Health Canada will only authorize a vaccine once it has been shown to be safe, effective and of good quality.
  • Government of Canada invests in promising treatment that could fight COVID-19Media Release
    • The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, today announced a contribution of up to $6.7 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) to Arch Biopartners, a Canadian clinical-stage biotechnology company that aims to advance its lead drug candidate Metablok as a treatment for organ inflammation in severe cases of COVID-19. Metablok is designed to block inflammation in the lungs, liver and kidneys, helping alleviate complications in the worst cases of COVID‑19.
    • This funding will help Arch Biopartners advance Metablok through Phase II clinical trials to prevent acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), acute kidney injury and other organ injuries caused by inflammation in hospitalized patients with severe cases of COVID-19. It will also help Arch Biopartners advance studies for optimal dosage; perform chemistry, manufacturing and controls to support the drug’s approval as a COVID-19 treatment; and ultimately prepare for a Phase III trial. This project will support Canada’s fight against COVID-19. Arch Biopartners has received Health Canada approval to conduct its Phase II clinical trials in Canada and is preparing to begin dosing patients in Canada.
    • Through this investment, the Government of Canada is contributing to breakthrough technology, efforts to advance the development of a treatment for COVID-19, and the commercialization of a made-in-Canada solution.

Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020:

  • Provincial Government Briefing:
    • The Premier and General Hillier spoke about the launch of the vaccination program in Ontario yesterday. They both thanked the “thousands” of people involved in making this happen.
    • General Hillier called yesterday an emotional day. In 2-3 weeks he expects to have 90,000 more Pfizer vaccines in Ontario which will be distributed to 19 (includes Toronto and Ottawa sites) sites throughout the province
    • Question Period:
      • Where will the Moderna vaccine go first? General Hillier said that it will go to long term care homes in lockdown and hot spot regions. He said it may also go to retirement homes in those areas. Both residents and staff will be vaccinated.
      • When we begin to receive the vaccine in bulk what is the maximum number of people that will be vaccinated in one day? General Hillier, said it would be thousands/day. He expects that by the first quarter of 2021, 1.2 million Ontarians could be vaccinated. “We can vaccinate people faster than we can get the vaccines”
      • Should teachers be prioritized to receive the vaccine? The Premier said he is receiving calls from many groups about being moved to the top of the list for vaccinations. Minister Elliott said the vaccine task force will make recommendations to cabinet on who should be prioritized for vaccinations.
      • Have you ruled out using the Pfizer vaccine in long term care homes? General Hillier said that the Pfizer vaccine can not be moved from where it has been currently delivered. “Moving long term care residents to vaccination sites is to risky.” Vaccinating personal support workers and other staff provides a layer of protection until the Moderna, or other vaccines that are more stable than the Pfizer vaccine are approved. When approved the Moderna vaccine, which can be moved, will be used to do vaccinations in long term care homes.

Monday, Dec. 14, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL MEDIA RELEASE (Dec. 14, 2020): Ontario Delivers First COVID-19 Vaccine in the Country
    • Premier Doug Ford issued the following statement on the first COVID-19 vaccinations being administered to frontline health care workers in Ontario and in the country:
    • “Today is a historic day for Ontario and for Canada as the first Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines have started to be given to our frontline health care heroes.
    • I would especially like to recognize Anita Quidangen, the first person in Ontario and Canada to receive the shot. Anita is a personal support worker (PSW) from the Rekai Centre at Sherbourne Place, a long-term care home in Toronto. She has worked tirelessly to care for some of our most vulnerable, both throughout this pandemic and since her first days as a PSW in 1988. Anita has spent years rolling up her sleeves to protect our province, and today, she didn’t hesitate to find a new way to do so. She represents the best of the Ontario Spirit.
    • Today’s milestone officially launches the first phase of our three-phase vaccine implementation plan to keep Ontarians safe and marks the beginning of the long journey to return life back to normal. Over 2,500 health care workers in our hospitals and long-term care homes will be vaccinated over the coming days and weeks, with more people to follow as additional shipments arrive.
    • I encourage everyone to be patient. This is the biggest immunization program in a century, and our vaccine supply will arrive in stages. General Hillier and the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force are working with Health Canada and other provincial and territorial partners to ensure the vaccines are distributed quickly, so people can get immunized as soon as possible.

The Province has announced a three-phase implementation plan to receive, store and administer COVID-19 vaccines to Ontarians as as they are received.
Phase One began on Dec. 15 with a pilot project in Toronto and Ottawa that included the vaccination of more than 2,500 health care workers with the Health Canada approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The pilot is in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Pfizer-BioNTech. Two pilot sites at University Health Network in Toronto and The Ottawa Hospital will receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to health care workers who are providing care in hospitals and long-term care homes.
It’s expected that the pilot will help inform the province’s preparedness plan to receive larger vaccine quantities as it moves forward in Phase One, providing the opportunity to test the logistics of delivery, reconstitution of the vaccine, clinic management, and post-vaccine surveillance. The pilot also affords the opportunity to learn from the experiences of those being immunized so lessons learned can be shared with sites that will receive the vaccine in the coming weeks and months.
The two locations were selected for the pilot because this will test the travel logistics in two different regions of the province. In addition, these sites already have the equipment necessary to safely store the Pfizer vaccine at -70 C and the trained staff to handle the vaccine. Since this vaccine cannot be transferred beyond the initial delivery location at this time, vaccinations will be administered to health care workers in high-risk areas, such as long-term care and critical care units in the Toronto and Ottawa regions.

  • Phase One will continue with the following key milestones:
    • Based on per capita allocations, an expected 90,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses received from the federal government will be delivered to up to 14 hospital sites in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones in December, to vaccinate health care workers in hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and other congregate settings caring for seniors.
    • Deliveries of an expected 35,000 to 85,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, once approved, will enable vaccinations to be expanded to long-term care homes in the Grey-Lockdown areas.
    • In early 2021, expansion of additional hospital sites providing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones, with continued vaccination provided to health care workers and, with the appropriate safety protocols, to long-term care home and retirement home residents.
    • It is anticipated that by end of January over 20 hospitals across the province will be administering the Pfizer vaccine.
  • An expansion of the number of locations to administer the Moderna vaccine would include long-term care homes, retirement homes, public heath units, other congregate care settings for seniors, and remote Indigenous communities.
  • Phase Two:
  • When an increased stockpile of vaccines becomes available to Ontario, the province will shift to Phase Two of its vaccination implementation plan, which is expected to begin later in the winter of 2021. During Phase Two, vaccinations will be administered to health care workers, as well as to residents in long-term care homes and retirement homes, to home care patients with chronic conditions and to additional First Nation communities and urban Indigenous populations, including Métis and Inuit individuals.
  • Phase Three:
  • Ontario will enter Phase Three when vaccines are available for every Ontarian who wishes to be immunized. While vaccines will not be mandated, during Phase Three, people will be strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.
  • The province’s decision to identify key populations to receive the vaccine first is based on the advice of medical experts and ethicists, recommended by the Ministers’ COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and aligned with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s recommendations.


PLEASE NOTE: To stay updated on what the City of Burlington is doing regarding COVID-19, please visit the dedicated pages burlington.ca/coronavirus (and subscribe) and bit.ly/mayormeedwardCOVID19updates, and our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page — bit.ly/COVID19BurlingtonFAQ that are updated as new information becomes available.
A consolidated page for information and updates on the work of the provincial Ministers’ COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force is available at bit.ly/COVIDVaccineUpdates.
A Burlington COVID-19 Task Force has been created to help support our community through this unprecedented emergency — updates will be provided at burlington.ca/COVID19taskforce.
To report an incident of non-compliance with provincial emergency orders, please contact the Halton Regional Police Service COVID-19 Hotline: 905-825-4722.
We’ve also created a dedicated page to feature the local organizations and businesses that have inspired us during the COVID-19 pandemic by taking action to support our community in new and creative ways — head to bit.ly/covidwallofinspiration.
HELPFUL RESOURCES & RELATED LINKS:

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A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made. As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington. The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful. Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:

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