Province bumping up vaccination timetable, essential workers included in phase 2

Some three million Ontarians with medical conditions could get access to vaccine sooner

The Ford government says it will speed up its vaccination schedule as it highlights who will be included in phase two of its inoculation program.

On Friday, Premier Doug Ford was joined by COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force Chair Gen. (ret’d) Rick Hillier to announce everyone age sixty and older should expect to have their COVID-19 vaccine by the end of May, earlier than first expected.

Up to 920,000 extra doses are to be provided to thirteen regions identified as hot spots, which includes Simcoe-Muskoka, as of April. Individual health units will determine how to put those added doses to use.

On top of focusing on Ontarians of a certain age, phase two will also allow for some three million people with various health conditions that leave them more vulnerable to get the shot. Individuals with the following health conditions will be vaccinated as part of phase two, ranked by priority:

  • Organ transplant recipients
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients
  • People with neurological diseases that could compromise respiratory function
  • Haematological malignancy diagnosed <1 year Kidney disease eGFR <30 Obesity (BMI > 40)
  • Other treatments causing immunosuppression
  • Intellectual or developmental disabilities
  • Immune deficiencies/autoimmune disorders
  • Stroke/cerebrovascular disease
  • Dementia
  • Liver disease
  • All other cancers
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Spleen problems
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension with end-organ damage
  • Thalassemia
  • Pregnancy
  • Immunocompromising health conditions
  • Other disabilities requiring direct support care

The next phase of the province’s vaccination plan also centers on those who cannot safely work from home. The plan calls for two groupings of sectors, with the first group receiving priority access over the other. It is expected vaccinations will begin for the following workers by June:

Group one:

  • Elementary/secondary school staff
  • Workers responding to critical events (police, fire, compliance, funeral, special constables)
  • Childcare and licenced foster care workers
  • Food manufacturing workers
  • Agriculture and farm workers

Group two:

  • High-risk and critical retail workers (grocery and pharmacy)
  • Remaining manufacturing labourers
  • Social Workers including youth justice workers
  • Courts and justice system workers including probation and parole
  • Transportation, warehousing, and distribution
  • Energy, telecom, water, and wastewater management
  • Financial services
  • Waste management
  • Mining, oil, and gas workers

“We’re now looking ahead and gearing up for phase two, with a focus on vaccinating those who face the greatest risk from this virus,” said Premier Ford. “Our seniors, individuals with specific health conditions, people living in congregate settings, and those who cannot work from home such as first responders.”

The announcement comes on the heels of Health Canada’s approval of the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine for use in Canada, along with news the nation is extending its interval between doses from two to four months.