The Ontario government announced its largest flu immunization campaign as part 1 of the province’s fall COVID-19 preparedness plan.
Premier Doug Ford made the announcement alongside health minister Christine Elliott at the government’s daily press conference.
Ford said the $70-million campaign is part 1 of 6 of the government’s plan, “Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future waves of COVID-19.” Ford promised the plan will help the province grapple with a second wave of the novel coronavirus.
“We’ve been working through the summer to put in place a robust and comprehensive plan to tackle a potential, more challenging second wave of COVID-19,” said Ford.
The strategy comes as daily virus case counts continue to climb to levels not seen for months in Ontario.
As part of the flu campaign, Ford said 5.1 million vaccine doses were ordered, more than 700,000 more than the previous year. That includes 1.3 million high-dose flu vaccines for seniors, including those with pre-existing health conditions.
Furthermore, early distribution will be made available for Ontario’s most vulnerable, including seniors in long-term care homes, retirement homes and hospitals. High-dose vaccines will also be made available for seniors in certain pharmacies.
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“The flu shot will be available in the coming weeks at primary care provider offices and public health units for anyone over the age of six months, and participating pharmacies for anyone five years of age or older,” a release said Tuesday.
Ford said the rest of the second-wave plan will be released over the “coming days.”
According to a government press release, the “Keeping Ontarians Safe” plan will entail the following:
- Maintain strong public health measures, including continued expansion of testing and case and contact management;
- Quickly identify, manage and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks;
- Accelerate efforts to reduce health service backlogs;
- Prepare for surges in COVID-19 cases;
- Recruit, retain, train and support health care workers, while also continuing to engage families and caregivers; and
- Implement the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario’s history.
Ontario reported 478 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the provincial total to 47,752.
—With files from The Canadian Press