The Ontario government says it is prioritizing long-term care homes in hotspot regions such as Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Officials said they hope to vaccinate all residents, health care workers and caregivers in long-term care homes in those areas by Jan. 21 with a dose.
So far, just over 50,000 people have been vaccinated with 44 immunization sites established across the province. Some frontline health care workers who were part of a pilot project in mid-December have received or are receiving their second dose this week.
Both the approved Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses, 21 days and 28 days apart, respectively.
The government said nearly 3,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine were administered to 24 long-term care homes by Jan. 3. Another 4,000 doses will be given between Jan. 4 and Jan. 6, the government said. The province received nearly 53,000 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 30.
“This first, small shipment is being used for a pilot in Toronto, York, Peel and Windsor-Essex to vaccinate residents at long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes, with the vaccine being administered at select long-term care homes within a day of receiving the shipment,” the government said in a document released Tuesday.
Pfizer-BioNTech has already sent 95,000 doses of their vaccine to Ontario since approval in December. Ontario said it will receive about 50,000 more doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine the week of Jan. 4 and about another 80,000 weekly, each, on Jan. 11, 18 and 25.
The Pfizer-BioNTech shot is largely being given out in hospitals to health-care workers due to its storage requirements while the Moderna shot is being used in long-term care homes.
The province also said it will start administering COVID-19 vaccinations in Ontario’s Indigenous communities later this week.
The Ontario government has faced criticism for its vaccine rollout in recent weeks, with some saying the province isn’t doling out doses fast enough.
In total, as part of Phase 1, Ontario is expected to see just over two million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Phase 1 prioritizes vaccinating health care workers, First Nations and vulnerable populations such as people in long-term care, retirement homes, congregate care settings for seniors and adults in chronic home health care.
Phase 2 of Ontario’s vaccination program is an extension of Phase 1 when more vaccines are available. Phase 3 will include every eligible Ontarian who wants to be immunized.
— With files from The Canadian Press.