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WATCH: Ontario ahead of schedule for vaccinations in long-term care homes

Ontario government has set a goal of administering vaccines in all long-term care homes across the province by Feb. 15

Ontario has administered more than 200,000 COVID-19 vaccinations and are ahead of schedule when it comes to providing vaccines to protect the province's most vulnerable citizens.

Premier Doug Ford spoke of the "first of many victories" to come against COVID-19 on Tuesday, stressing the importance of getting vaccines into the arms of Ontario residents.

"This vaccine is the difference between life and death for our most vulnerable," said Ford.

"Despite limits on the supply here in Ontario, we have made incredible progress in the span of four short weeks. We're emptying the freezers on what we've received so far, we're getting needles into people's arms and we're focusing on our most vulnerable."

To date, more than 40 per cent of all long-term care homes across the province have had an opportunity to receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 83,000 long-term care residents, staff and essential caregivers have been vaccinated.

"Earlier this month we set a target of getting all long-term care homes in our four hardest-hit regions vaccinated by Jan. 21 and today I can announce we have hit this target ahead of schedule," said Ford.

The province has set a goal of administering vaccines in all long-term care homes across the province by Feb. 15.

As part of Phase One of its vaccine implementation plan, Ontario will continue to focus on vaccinating vulnerable populations, and those who care for them, as more supply becomes available.

On Jan. 15, the province was alerted by the federal government that due to work to expand its European manufacturing facility, production of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine will be impacted and Canada's allocations of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the remainder of January and early February will be reduced.  

To respond to this change in supply of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams has provided updated direction on the administration of second doses:

  • Long-term care and high-risk retirement home residents and their essential caregivers, who have received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, will receive their second dose in 21 to 27 days.
  • Staff who were vaccinated within the homes at the same time as the residents will also follow the same schedule.
  • All other recipients of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine must receive their second dose after 21 days and before 42 days.
  • For individuals who received the Moderna vaccine, the dose schedule of 28 days will remain.

"We've been laser-focused on meeting the Premier's challenge to complete first dose vaccinations to our most vulnerable in the four key areas by January 21," said General Rick Hillier (retired).

"I want to commend the tremendous effort of everyone involved in achieving this milestone ahead of schedule because this is their success."

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario has invested $1.38 billion to ensure that long-term care homes have the resources they need to battle this virus.