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Ontario updates COVID-19 vaccine plan as Pfizer delays continue

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Ford says COVID-19 vaccinations for vulnerable seniors, caretakers running ‘well ahead of schedule’' Coronavirus: Ford says COVID-19 vaccinations for vulnerable seniors, caretakers running ‘well ahead of schedule’
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Monday that the province is accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations for vulnerable seniors and those who take care of them, stating they are running “well ahead of schedule.” Ford said he has asked Gen. Rick Hillier of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force to complete all long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes provincewide by Feb. 5 instead of Feb. 15 – Jan 25, 2021

The Ontario government updated their COVID-19 vaccination plan for the province as the delays with Pfizer continue, with no allocations of the vaccine being provided the week of Jan. 25.

The plan was provided by the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force Monday morning, who said the Pfizer delay is due to the company retooling their plant in Belgium, with the hope to create up to two-billion vaccines in a year, up from 1.3 billion.

Read more: Ontario outlines how Pfizer vaccine delivery delay will affect its COVID-19 immunization plan

According to documents provided, it was made known to Ontario on Jan. 19 that there would be no Pfizer vaccinations delivered the week of Jan. 25 and only 26,325 the week of Feb. 1. Originally, the province was receiving up to 80,000 doses.

“If the past week has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t take vaccine shipments for granted,” Premier Doug Ford said. “I want to be clear, we’re using every single vaccine we can to protect our most vulnerable. But delivery delays are now forcing us to be careful and cautious.”

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The federal government has not yet provided Ontario information for the weeks of Feb. 8 and Feb 15.

Ontario is currently under a second State of Emergency and a stay-at-home order.

Read more: Coronavirus: Toronto doctor reflects on Canada’s 1st COVID-19 case, one year later

Due to the delays, officials said the province will focus on accelerating the “vaccination of long-term care, high-risk retirement and First Nations elder care home residents and continue to administer second doses based on availability of supply provided by the federal government.”

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The target date of Feb. 5 to provide first doses to the above three locations is still the goal, the documents said, however, it will depend on the number of vaccines delivered the week of Feb. 1.

Furthermore, officials said vaccines will be reallocated to 14 public health units who have not received any doses to date.

Read more: New U.K. COVID-19 variant case found in Simcoe Muskoka, may be linked to long-term care outbreak

Time between doses will also be extended for the Pfizer vaccines, according to the documents. For resident groups, second doses will remain to be provided within 21 to 27 days of the first dose. For all others, the time between doses will be extended to no more than 42 days.

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The government also said there will be no change in the interval of doses for the Moderna vaccine.

As of Monday, the province has administered over 285,000 vaccine doses, with first doses having been provided to 479 long-term care homes and 540 retirement homes.

Once the vaccine supply is restored, the plan is to vaccinate the remaining staff and essential caregivers at the three target locations, remaining retirement homes and other “congregate care for seniors”, health care workers, First Nation, Inui and Metis populations and adults in chronic home care.

Ford said Ontario still hopes that to be able to offer immunizations more widely to people across the province this summer.

“As soon as we can start receiving regular shipments of vaccines from the federal government, it will be full steam ahead,” he said.

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“My friends, we are ready.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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