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Ontario says paramedics will be included in 1st phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Paramedics stand by their ambulances at Toronto Western Hospital in Toronto on Tuesday October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Paramedics will be included in the first phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Ontario, a top public health official said Wednesday.

Dr. Dirk Huyer, who sits on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force, made the comments one day after the head of the task force, retired Gen. Rick Hillier, said they would be included in the latter part of the first phase, or into the second phase.

“Paramedics are within the health-care field and will be within the first phase which is extending to about March,” Huyer said.

Read more: Head of Ontario task force says paramedics will have to wait for vaccine

“That’s the plan. I can’t speak specifically to what Gen. Hillier was saying.”

Huyer said they are first looking to vaccinate the most vulnerable populations within the first phase, beginning with long-term care home and retirement home residents and staff, before moving on to other health-care workers.

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“So paramedics may come at a different point with other folks that are in the health-care field,” Huyer said.

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“All of that work will happen, to some extent, by logistics. But paramedics are recognized as an area of health-care and are recognized as an area that will be vaccinated within the first grouping.”

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Hillier said Tuesday that paramedics could receive vaccines as late as May.

“They will be picked up in the latter part of phase 1, March, into the front part of phase 2 which is April or May. That’s most likely when they will be seen,” he said.

Read more: Ontario expects to vaccinate up to 8.5 million people by end of June

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President of the Peel Paramedic Union Dave Wakely also said Tuesday the lack of clarity around when the vaccine will be available is difficult for union members.

“We want to be treated as health-care workers because we are doing the job of health-care workers,” Wakely said.

— With files from Katherine Ward

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