Ontario issues 'call to arms' for volunteers to help boost vaccination effort
The Ontario government is calling on firefighters, dentists, retired doctors and nurses and anyone else who can to help accelerate the third-dose vaccine campaign as COVID-19 infections climb higher.
A “call to arms” issued by Premier Doug Ford’s office Wednesday says that the government is calling on “businesses, volunteers and retired health professionals to help further boost capacity and get more boosters into arms sooner.”
Ontario health officials have said that they would like to hit 300,000 doses per day as the province tries to distribute as many booster shots as possible to help curb the spread of the more contagious Omicron variant.
The most contagious iteration of the COVID-19 virus so far, Omicron has been driving up case counts in Ontario and in other jurisdictions around the world. The province reported nearly 4,400 cases Wednesday and some infectious disease experts have predicted that we could soon see 10,000 daily cases.
Ontario has scrambled to once again scale up its vaccine distribution capacity and has had some success. The province has given out an average of 164,000 doses per day over the past seven days. That's up significantly from the previous seven days, when an average of just around 80,000 doses were given out each day.
While daily doses have climbed above 200,000 for the past two days, it is unclear how soon the province will be able to meet its goal.
While the province has all the vaccine supply it needs, many vaccination sites are limited by staffing hours. Some are also planning to close or to run at reduced hours over the holidays.
“Our best defence against the highly transmissible Omicron variant is a lightning-fast offence,” Premier Doug Ford said in the statement from his office Wednesday. “In a few short weeks, Ontario has scaled up its vaccine rollout at incredible speed, but we aren’t stopping there. Everyone has a role to play. It’s all hands on deck as we boost up Ontario.”
Regulatory amendments will allow retired nurses and physicians, dentists, and firefighters to give shots at vaccination sites, so long as they are supervised by a physician, registered nurse or nurse practitioner, or a pharmacist who is present at the premises where the vaccine is administered.
Volunteers from those groups are being encouraged to register through the Health Workforce Matching Portal and those who have previously registered are being asked to log in and update their availability.
Ford’s office said appropriate education and training courses will be available to volunteers.
Some 2.3 million Ontarians have received booster shots so far, but many others have found it challenging to book an appointment.
The provincial booking system opened to all those 18 and older on Monday, but all the appointments were snatched up within hours in many jurisdictions. Long lineups have been reported a pop-up clinics and many people have said they've also had difficulty booking an appointment at pharmacies.
On Wednesday Ford also called on businesses to set up employer-led vaccination clinics by calling the Ontario Together Contact Centre at 1-888-777-0554.
The province is also recruiting volunteers age 16 and up through a dedicated volunteer portal to fullfill a variety of roles based on their knowledge and abilities.
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