COVID-19 Update for March 5 – 2:45PM

In a day packed with COVID-19 news, Ontario Premier Doug Ford released an updated vaccination plan for the province and announced the stay-at-home order will be lifted for three public health units, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an accelerated Pfizer vaccine delivery schedule.

Ontario Vaccine Plan
The provincial government has further detailed the list of people who will be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine in the second phase of Ontario’s distribution plan. Expected to be completed in August, the province will begin mass vaccinations next month of adults aged 60–79 (in declining five-year intervals), people in high-risk congregate settings, individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers, people who cannot work from home and at-risk populations. According to the provincial government, up to nine million Ontarians will be vaccinated between April 2021 and July 2021.

The highest-risk health conditions set out as priority populations for the province to vaccinate in phase 2 include organ transplant recipients, hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients, people with neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised, hematological malignancy diagnosed and kidney disease. The province hopes to begin vaccinating individuals with these health conditions in April.

Elementary and secondary school staff are included in the list of employees who cannot work from home along with workers responding to critical events, childcare and licenced foster care workers, food manufacturing workers, agriculture and farm workers.

The province has also allocated supplementary doses of the vaccine for ‘hot spot’ areas, determined by high rates of death, hospitalization and transmission. These regions are:

  • Durham
  • Halton
  • Hamilton
  • Niagara
  • Ottawa
  • Peel
  • Simcoe Muskoka
  • Waterloo
  • Wellington Dufferin Guelph
  • Windsor Essex
  • York
  • Toronto
  • South West

The full list of targeted populations in phase 2 of the province’s vaccination program can be found here.

Ontario is also launching an online vaccine booking pilot program in six regions: Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington; Peterborough County-City; Hastings and Prince Edward Counties; Leeds, Grenville and Lanark; Grey Bruce; and Lambton.

Stay-at-Home Orders Lifted in Ontario
The three public health units that remained under a stay-at-home order will be transferred back to the COVID-19 response framework effective Monday, March 8, at 12:01 a.m. Toronto and Peel will be entering the framework at the Grey-Lockdown level, while North Bay-Parry Sound residents will be under the Red-Control level.

Seven other public health regions will be entering new levels of the framework. Peterborough Public Health, Public Health Sudbury and Districts and Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit will be entering the Red-Control level of the framework; Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit and Timiskaming Health Unit will be entering the Orange-Restrict level of the framework; and Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit and Renfrew County and District Health Unit will be entering the Yellow-Protect level of the framework.

The details on what each level of restriction means for Ontarians can be found here.

Prime Minister Trudeau Announces Accelerated Pfizer Vaccine Deliveries
After highlighting today’s Health Canada approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Trudeau announced that Canada is set to receive an accelerated delivery of Pfizer vaccines over the coming months.

Canada will be receiving an additional 1.5 million Pfizer vaccines before the end of March, as well as an additional shipment of 1 million doses in both April and May. This means that Canada will have received a total of 8 million vaccine doses by the end of March and is set to receive 12.8 million Pfizer vaccines between April and June.

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