The Ontario government said it’s finished administering all first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to people living in 31 fly-in northern First Nations and Moosonee.
The 31 remote communities and Moosonee were selected as a part of a vaccine initiative dubbed Operation Remote Immunity, which was set up to offer coronavirus immunizations to Indigenous elder care home residents and First Nations that face a disproportionate risk of COVID-19 infection.
“A key part of our COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan is to ensure Ontario’s Indigenous communities and residents are protected,” Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement.
“This important milestone could not have been achieved without the tremendous efforts of Indigenous leadership, community members, Ornge and frontline health care workers coming together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in these at-risk communities.”
The 31 fly-in First Nations and Moosonee were chosen to be a part of Operation Remote Immunity since they’re nearly all only accessible by air. All of the communities are also remote, have a higher risk of serious illness and have challenges accessing health-care services.
The government said the communities have few health-care facilities and resources to manage the spread of COVID-19, making the risk of infection potentially devastating.
“The delivery and administration of vaccines to these communities is an outstanding example of Ontario and Indigenous leadership working together to fight this pandemic on the ground where Indigenous populations are most at risk,” Ontario Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford said in a statement.
“This would not have been possible without the support of leaders and residents in these fly-in communities in promoting vaccination and helping to set up vaccinations sites, ensuring the most at-risk community members are protected.”
Operation Remote Immunity was launched on Feb. 1 and aims to finish by the end of April.
Second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are currently being given in six communities, with 1,455 people scheduled to receive it the week of March 8.
The vaccine is being offered to community members who are age 18-plus.
As of Sunday, Operation Remote Immunity has administered 15,324 coronavirus vaccine doses, including 12,660 first doses and 2,664 second doses.