Ontario offering mobile clinics to help vaccinate essential workers in small and medium businesses
TORONTO -- Ontario is on track to offer a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to 65 per cent of all adults by the end of May, officials say as the province prepares to launch mobile units to help vaccinate essential workers in small and medium size businesses in the Greater Toronto Area.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday afternoon, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said the province will launch up to five mobile vaccination units in Toronto, Peel and York regions starting Friday. These units will target essential workers in small and medium-sized businesses, such as those in food or product manufacturing.
The businesses will be identified by public health units based on location, history or risk of outbreaks, and inability of employees to work from home. They also have to be willing or have the ability to host a mobile unit on adjacent property.
“These (units) will be equipped with the necessary resources to provide an easy and seamless process for workers to be vaccinated as quickly as possible in priority hotspots,” Jones said.
The province hopes to expand the number of mobile units to 15 “once the program is fully established.”
The units are meant to help support workplaces unable to host vaccination clinics of their own. A number of larger corporations—such as Maple Lodge Farms, Maple Leaf Foods, Amazon, Walmart and Loblaw’s to name a few—will be hosting vaccination clinics for their employees.
However, these workplaces must also commit to helping with local community vaccination efforts.
The province also said Wednesday that 43 per cent of adults in Ontario have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Officials said that they hope “to offer” 65 per cent of the adult population a shot by the end of the month.
As of Wednesday, officials say that 44 per cent of people aged 18 and up in the province’s 114 hot spots have received a dose of a vaccine.
Last week, the province committed to allocating 50 per cent its vaccine supply to hot spots for a period of two weeks. The process began Monday with the province allowing all individuals aged 18 and up in a hot spot to book a shot using their online system.
On May 3, the first day the booking opened to this age group, 533,296 appointments were booked in hot spots.
Twenty-two per cent of those appointments were booked in Peel Region, officials said, and 63 per cent of appointments were booked in Toronto.
The province has said it has no plans to continue allotting 50 per cent of vaccine supply to hot spots after the two-week period. Following these two weeks, only 25 per cent of vaccine supply will be dedicated to hot spots.
Ontario’s COVID-19 science table said that allotting half of the vaccine supply to 74 higher risk neighbourhoods will “substantially reduce the overall incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infections,” as well as lower hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths.
The table said that vaccinations in these hot spots could be completed within 25 days.
ONTARIO TO RECEIVE 116,000 DOSES OF JOHNSON & JOHNSON
The province is expecting to receive 116,100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, with a delivery date pending.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending that this vaccine, along with AstraZeneca, be offered to adults 30 years of age and older.
More details about how the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be used is expected in “the coming days,” officials said.
The province has said it will not be altering the age threshold for the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is currently being offered to people aged 40 and up.
MODERNA VACCINE COMING TO SELECT PHARMACIES
Starting this week, doses of the Moderna vaccine will be administered in about 60 pharmacies in hot spots in Durham, Hamilton, Ottawa, Windsor-Essex and York beginning this weekend.
Individuals who are aged 50 and up, or aged 18 and up in a hot spot, will be eligible.
The province says that more than 2,500 pharmacies will soon be ready to offer a COVID-19 vaccine
As of Thursday, more people will become eligible for the COVID-19 through the provincial booking system. The age threshold will drop from 55 to 50 and individuals with high-risk health conditions and the first group of workers who cannot work from home will be able to get their shot.
The government said last week that they hope to open eligibility for the vaccine to all adults over the age of 18 by the end of the month.