Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced on Friday that the province is working with public health units to prepare its phase two vaccination plan, which includes building and expanding the province’s capacity to immunize residents.
“I want to assure the people of this great province that we are ready to get vaccines into as many arms as possible, we simply need the supply,” Ford said in a statement, adding that the province has administered over half a million COVID-19 vaccine doses to date.
Unexpected reductions in supply and delayed shipments in early February forced Ontario to focus on vaccinating the province’s highest risk resident populations, Ford’s office said in a statement.
The province is now working to vaccinate the remaining Phase One populations by early March, including staff and residents long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes, First Nations elder care homes, and those aged 80 and above.
The province said it will continue to expand its capacity and ramp up its effort for Phase Two of its vaccination rollout, which is expected to start in April. The province’s public health units have also developed plans to operate mass immunization clinics once enough vaccine supplies are available. At the same time, it will continue to offer mobile clinics to vaccinate the most vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus causes.
In addition, an online booking system will be set up to support the next phase of vaccination roll-out. And 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, according to the release.
Besides the vaccination plan, Ontario announced earlier that Toronto, Peel, and North Bay Parry will continue with stay-at-home order for another two weeks, while the York region will transit into the red zone of the province’s COVID-19 reopening framework next week.
This means the lockdown measures and stay-at-home orders will remain in Toronto, Peel, North Bay, and Parry Sound until March 8.
The provincial government said while they saw a reduction in COVID-19 transmission in Toronto and Peel from Feb. 8 to 17, the rates still remain too high in these regions, with case rates of 83.4 cases per 100,000 people for Peel and 67.9 cases per 100,000 people for Toronto, both well above the provincial average.
As for North Bay and Parry Sound, the case rate has increased by 1.5 percent to 14.6 cases per 100,000 people. Variants of concern also remain a serious risk to community transmission and health system capacity, the release states.
In the case of York region, the transition to red zone will come into effect on Feb. 22 at 12.01 a.m. This will allow indoor dinning at restaurants to resume and gyms to reopen though with reduced capacity and restrictions to follow.