COVID-19 Update for December 29 – 12:00PM

Ontario is aiming to vaccinate more than 8.5 million residents against the COVID-19 virus by the end of June, Retired General Rick Hillier said Tuesday during a daily briefing session.

Phase 1 of Vaccination Program Underway

Ontario health officials have already started administering the Pfizer vaccine to front-line health-care workers and those in most vulnerable circumstances, with more than 14,000 already receiving the shot.

Within the next 24 hours, an estimated 50,000 Moderna vaccines will arrive in the province to begin a pilot program that will distribute the shot in up to three long-term care homes. The lessons learned from this immediate roll out will then be shared with every provincial health unit, long-term care homes and retirement homes in the province.

This first phase will also include a mass vaccination program in isolated communities in Northern Ontario.

Doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine will continue to arrive in Ontario over the coming weeks. By the end of March, Hillier says some 1.1 million health-care workers and long-term care residents will have been vaccinated.

Also during this period, the province will prepare mass vaccination sites to be used in Phase 2.

Phase 2 to Start in April

Through April, May and June, Ontario expects to receive 5 million doses of the vaccines each month, with a goal to vaccinate 150,000 residents each day.

The target in Phase 2 is to get as many essential workers — such as farmers and teachers — vaccinated as quickly as possible.

As many as 7.5 million Ontarians are expected to get vaccinated in this Phase — more if it is determined people will be adequately protected with only one dose of the Moderna vaccine.

Phase 3 of Ontario’s vaccination program, to start in July, is what Hillier calls the “steady state” where the vaccines are treated more like traditional vaccines for flu or shingles and people can go to their family doctor or pharmacies to receive it.

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