Canadian Manufacturing

Ontario promises 18+ vaccine access by end of May

The province will send half its vaccine supply for the first two weeks of May to 114 postal codes identified as hot spots.

April 30, 2021  The Canadian Press

Ontario will send half its vaccine supply to hot spots for the next two weeks and hopes to make all adults eligible for COVID-19 shots by the last week of May thanks to the expected arrival of millions of doses.

The acceleration in the vaccine effort was announced Apr. 29 as the province’s science advisers said cases rates were high but decreasing under a stay-at-home order, although further limits on essential workplaces were needed to bring the devastating third wave under control.

The government has been criticized for a slow and bumpy vaccine rollout while cases have soared but Health Minister Christine Elliott said a massive influx of doses in the coming weeks would help the province emerge from the pandemic.

“The way out of the pandemic is vaccines, and a light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter every day,” she said.

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The province will send half its vaccine supply for the first two weeks of May to 114 postal codes identified as hot spots, an increase from the 25 per cent allocation those areas currently get.

The move follows a recommendation from the province’s science advisers to allocate shots based on transmission rate rather than age group to reduce hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19.

The government said it will return to a per capita distribution for vaccines on the week of May 17.

Ontario is also working to lower age eligibility for the vaccine throughout the month of May, saying those 50 and older can book shots at mass vaccination clinics starting next week.

If supply holds, the province expects to make those 18 and older eligible for a shot at mass sites provincewide on the week of May 24.

Additional limits on essential businesses and a sick-day program that helps workers isolate will help limit worker mobility and drive down rates further, he said.

Those comments came as the province fast-tracked and passed legislation that provides workers with three paid sick days to self-isolate.

Critics have said the government program falls far short of the 10 to 14 days required to isolate due to COVID-19, and will not help bend the curve of infection among essential workers.

Asked if the provincial program will be adequate to meet the most optimistic case projections, Brown said no.