Here’s who’s eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in 2nd phase of Ontario’s plan

Click to play video: 'Essential workers left off phase 2 vaccination list seek clarity from Ontario government'
Essential workers left off phase 2 vaccination list seek clarity from Ontario government
WATCH ABOVE: Restaurant workers have been told they’re among those to be vaccinated in phase two of the Ontario inoculation plan. But other essential workers who can’t work from home are asking why they’ve been left off. – Mar 23, 2021

As the Ontario government moves closer to the second phase of its COVID-19 vaccination plan, questions have been growing about who will be eligible to be inoculated as supply increases.

According to the government’s plans, health-care workers across Ontario are expected to move into phase two of the three-phase plan sometime in April. The exact date has yet to be announced.

Officials have repeatedly said the ability to advance in the plan is going to be dependent on the supply of the four approved vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Johnson and Johnson).

As of March 23, more than 301,000 people in Ontario received both required COVID-19 vaccine doses and more than 1.3 million people received just one dose.

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The first phase of the plan, which was still underway as of March 23, prioritized frontline health-care workers, long-term care and retirement home residents and staff, Indigenous adults and chronic home care recipients.

The government concurrently began two programs to vaccinate older adults: Appointments for people 75 and older (as of March 23) across Ontario through the province’s online portal and a pilot program through pharmacies for people 60 and older in three regions.

Looking ahead, the second phase will focus on the following sets of people: Those who live and work in high-risk congregate settings, caregivers in certain congregate settings, certain primary caregivers, essential frontline workers who can’t work from home, individuals with high-risk chronic conditions, and communities at greater risk.

Officials said the primary priority groups are people 60 and older, people 50 and older in hot spot regions, people with the highest- and high-risk health conditions, and those in high-risk congregate settings. The secondary priority groups are the remaining people with at-risk health conditions and essential workers who can’t work from home.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Health prioritization guidelines on March 23, it was estimated all those 60 and above who wanted a vaccine dose will have had the opportunity to get inoculated by the first week of June (depending on supply). Depending on health conditions or other risk factors, that population and others affected should be offered vaccines in April or May. It was estimated essential workers won’t widely be offered vaccines until June.

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Here’s who currently qualifies for each of the above categories:

People with health conditions

According to documents published by the Ontario government, health-care workers will move to prioritize people in descending order of risk groups and conditions for vaccinations.

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Highest risk

– Approximately 442,000 people considered to have “highest-risk” conditions
– Organ transplant recipients
– Hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients
– People with neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised (e.g., motor neuron disease, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis)
– Haematological malignancy diagnosed less than a year ago
– Kidney disease eGFR< 30High risk

– Approximately 292,000 people considered to have “high-risk” conditions
– Obesity (BMI > 40)
– Other treatments causing immunosuppression (e.g. chemotherapy, immunity-weakening medications)
– Intellectual or developmental disabilities (e.g. Down syndrome)

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At risk

– Approximately 2.2 million people considered to have “at-risk” conditions
– Immune deficiencies and autoimmune disorders
– Stroke or cerebrovascular disease
– Dementia
– Diabetes
– Liver disease
– All other cancers
– Respiratory diseases
– Spleen problems
– Heart disease
– Hypertension with end-organ damage
– Diagnosis of mental disorder
– Substance use disorders
– Thalassemia
– Pregnancy
– Immunocompromising health conditions
– Other disabilities requiring direct support care in the community


The government listed approximately 400,000 primary caregivers of people who fall under the “highest risk” category of health conditions will be eligible for vaccinations.

Also, caregivers who work in developmental services, Indigenous healing and wellness, mental health and addictions, special care homes, and children’s residential facilities qualify for vaccines.

Congregate settings

Approximately 158,000 people in the following congregate settings will be eligible for vaccination:

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– Supportive housing
– Developmental services as well as intervenor and supported independent living (SIL)
– Emergency homeless shelters
– Other homeless populations not in shelters
– Mental health and addictions congregate settings
– Homes for special care violence against women shelters and anti-human trafficking residents
– Children’s residential facilities
– Youth justice facilities
– Indigenous healing and wellness
– Provincial and demonstration schools
– Farm workers who live in congregate settings, including temporary foreign workers
– Bail beds and Indigenous bail beds
– Adult correctional facilities

Essential workers

There are two groups of people who are unable to work remotely that will be in line for vaccinations.

The first group of workers

– Approximately 730,000 people in this group of workers
– Elementary and secondary school staff and bus drivers that transport students
– Workers responding to critical events (e.g., police, fire, compliance, funeral, special constables)
– Child care workers
– Licensed foster care workers
– Food manufacturing workers
– Agriculture and farm workers

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The second group of workers

– Approximately 1,400,000 people in this group of workers
– High-risk and critical retail workers (grocery and pharmacies)
– Remaining manufacturing workers
– Social workers (including those focusing on youth justice)
– Courts and justice system workers (including probation and parole officers)
– Lower-risk retail workers (wholesalers, general goods)
– Transportation, warehousing and distribution
– Energy, telecom (data and voice), water and wastewater management
– Financial services
– Waste management
– Mining, oil and gas workers

Note: Premier Doug Ford confirmed on March 23 restaurant workers would be eligible for vaccines, but it was unclear which of these classifications they fall under. He also said he was working to confirm if taxi drivers would be included in the list.

Click to play video: 'Ontario premier Ford says restaurant workers can get vaccinated in Phase 2, will confirm on if taxi drivers can'
Ontario premier Ford says restaurant workers can get vaccinated in Phase 2, will confirm on if taxi drivers can

Hot spots and communities at greater risk

The March 5 news release said the 13 public health units, which have had high rates of death, hospitalization and transmission, will collectively receive up to 920,000 additional vaccine doses. It will be up to the following public health units to prioritize vaccines in local hotspots.

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– Durham Region Health Department
– Halton Region Public Health
– City of Hamilton Public Health Services
– Niagara Region Public Health
– Ottawa Public Health
– Peel Public Health
– Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
– Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
– Wellington-Dufferin Guelph Public Health
– Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
– York Region Public Health
– Toronto Public Health
– Southwestern Public Health

The plan announced at the beginning of the year said Black and other racialized communities would also be prioritized for vaccines.

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