Ford hopes to send provincial officials to U.S. to learn from COVID-19 vaccine rollout
TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he hopes to send provincial officials to some U.S. states to monitor and learn about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in other areas.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday morning, the premier said the province has reached out to New York state and Michigan to get “people on the ground there” to watch the vaccine rollout unfold.
“Lets learn from other areas, what works, what doesn’t work and apply it in Ontario,” he said at an annual holiday toy drive on Tuesday morning. “I have confidence that when this lands on our soil we will be ready to distribute it.”
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada expects to receive 249,000 doses of the not yet approved Pfizer vaccine by the end of the month, with an estimated 85,000 of those doses coming to Ontario.
The province has said that long-term care residents should be among the first people in Ontario to receive the vaccine but on Monday, officials cast doubt on whether that will be feasible at first.
Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said that Pfizer has indicated that too much movement of the shots could degrade the quality of the vaccine, which must be stored in ultra-cold freezers at a temperature of -80 C.
Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, the chair of the province’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, said that the province may first have to vaccinate people at large vaccination centres until the Moderna vaccine arrives in Canada.
Ontario expects to receive a combined 2.4 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the first three months of 2021, enough to provide 1.2 million residents with the required two doses of the vaccine.
The first phase of the province’s distribution plan, Hillier said, will span two to three months and will focus on inoculating health care workers, residents, staff, essential caregivers, and other employees of congregate living settings that provide care for seniors, adults in Indigenous communities and adult recipients of chronic home health care.
In April, the province said it is expected that the second phase of the distribution plan will commence with a goal of ensuring every Ontarian who wants the vaccine can receive it.
The third and final phase will essentially turn the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine into one similar to the system that distributes flu shots using pharmacies, physician’s offices, and public health units.