'This vaccine is liquid gold': What to expect for the new COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario
TORONTO -- Premier Doug Ford and his team provided additional details on the rollout of the new COVID-19 vaccine, which officials are calling “liquid gold” right now as the deadly disease continues to spread across the province.
The premier spoke alongside his COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force at a news conference on Friday to provide further information on the new Pfizer vaccine.
“We find ourselves at a turning point. They have taken the next step forward to ending this pandemic,” Ford said. “Friends, there is light at the end of the tunnel … but folks the situation is still very, very serious. We're still battling the second wave.”
Ontario reported 1,848 new cases of the novel coronavirus across the province on Friday. It also reported that 45 more people have died due to the disease, marking the highest number of deaths recorded since June 4.
CTV News Toronto has compiled a summary of the information the province has released so far on the new vaccine approved by Health Canada.
When will Ontario receive the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine?
The province is expected to receive 6,000 doses of the vaccine on Monday, and will launch phase one of its distribution plans on Tuesday in Ottawa and Toronto.
The two pilot sites at the University Health Network in Toronto and The Ottawa Hospital will receive 3,000 doses each.
Sylvia Jones, who sits on the province's vaccine distribution task force, said the government has taken many precautions to ensure the doses would be kept safe and secure at the two sites.
“You know, the truth is that this vaccine is liquid gold at this point, we are getting a very limited supply,” Jones told reporters on Friday. “We wanted to make sure that we had done our due diligence to ensure that the sites were ready [and] protected.”
Which groups will the province vaccinate first?
The province said that 3,000 health-care workers, who provide care in hospitals and long-term care homes, would be the first group in the province to receive the vaccine.
The workers will have to visit the first two pilot sites. The province said that due to the particular storage needs of this vaccine, officials wouldn’t be able to move the vaccine outside its “initial delivery location.”
“This is the biggest vaccination ever for Ontario, for Canada,” Ret. Gen. Rick Hillier, who leads the vaccine distribution task force, told reporters on Friday.
“It's a data driven operation to go after those that are in most vulnerable circumstances first, and then work to the rest.”
How many doses will the province get by the end of December?
The province announced on Friday that it expects to receive 90,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from the federal government by December.
The doses would be delivered to up to 14 hospital sites in various COVID-19 hot spot regions, including areas in the grey lockdown phase and those in the red control phase.
The province said it will continue to prioritize health-care workers in hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and other congregate settings caring for seniors.
What about other vaccines besides Pfizer?
The Ontario government said it expects 35,000 to 85,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine once approved by Health Canada. The province said they would be able to expand take this vaccine to long-term care homes in its lockdown regions because it does not have same storage limitations as the Pfizer one.
“An expansion of the number of locations to administer the Moderna vaccine would include long-term care homes, retirement homes, public heath units, other congregate care settings for seniors, and remote Indigenous communities,” the province said.
What’s expected for next year?
The province said that over 20 hospitals across the province would be administering the Pfizer vaccine by the end of January to health-care workers and, “with the appropriate safety protocols,” to long-term care and retirement home residents.
As more vaccines arrive, the province said it will move to phase two of its vaccination implementation plan, which is expected to begin later in the winter of 2021. The vaccination program will be expanded in this phase to include home care patients with chronic conditions, First Nation communities, and urban Indigenous populations, including Métis and Inuit individuals.
The province said that Ontario would enter phase three of its plan when vaccines are available for "every Ontarian who wishes to get the vaccine."
“While vaccines will not be mandated, during phase three, people will be strongly encouraged to get vaccinated,” the province said.