Province outlines who is next in line for vaccinations as record numbers of doses arrive on Canadian soil

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QUEEN’S PARK – The Province of Ontario has outlined who will be prioritized next for its COVID-19 vaccination program.

A memo was sent out to local medical officers of health and hospital CEOs in late February in which provincial health officials said staff and essential caregivers in long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes and First Nations elder care homes, along with any residents in these settings who have not yet received a first dose, are an immediate priority for vaccinations.

“At this time, we are pleased to report that residents of all long-term care homes across the province have been given an opportunity for their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine,” the memo read.

The groups that should be next in line, according to the provincial memo, include Indigenous adults in Northern remote and higher risk communities and health-care workers with the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19. The province has broken down health-care workers into four categories: highest priority, very high priority, high priority and moderate priority.

“When all reasonable steps have been taken to complete first-dose vaccinations of all staff, essential caregivers and residents of long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes and First Nations elder care homes, first-dose vaccinations may be made available to the remainder of the phase one populations,” continued the memo.

People in this category include all adults ages 80 and over as well as staff, residents and caregivers in all retirement homes and other congregate care settings for seniors. All Indigenous adults, adult recipients of chronic home care and health-care workers in the high priority level are also included in phase one.

“To ensure equity and integrity in vaccine delivery, public health units and vaccination clinics should implement processes to fill last-minute cancellations, no-shows and end of day remaining doses with people who are in groups identified in this memo as immediate and next priority for vaccination, and only to phase one priority populations,” the memo concludes.