I sent my first situation report on December 12, 2020. That was just a few days before vaccines arrived for distribution. Here we are 15 weeks later and over 1,838,000 doses have been administered in Ontario. This is a remarkable achievement made possible by the hard work and leadership in the health sector, municipalities and our First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities.
Incredible progress has been made in the past two weeks. Since the provincial booking system was launched on March 15, 2021, more than 583,000 have been scheduled for first and second doses. The Provincial Vaccine Information Line and the Provincial Booking Line have received more than 205,000 calls. With limited wait times, the system is doing exactly what it was designed to – assist Ontarians in obtaining quick and easy access to a vaccine appointment.
On March 22, 2021 we were able to expand appointments through the booking system to individuals aged 75 and over, ahead of schedule.
In alignment with both the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s latest recommendation to expand the use of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine to people 18 years old and older and Ontario’s Ethical Framework, participating pharmacies and primary care settings are now offering vaccination appointments to individuals turning 60 and older in 2021.
In addition to the 327 pharmacies already running, expansion is continuing with approximately 350 pharmacies to be brought on board across the province in the next two weeks and continuing up to 1,500 by the end of April.
Primary care providers will also play an integral role in the rollout. As of March 10, six public health units have received initial AstraZeneca allocation for doctors’ offices. This includes Hamilton, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, Peterborough, Simcoe Muskoka District, Peel and Toronto. We will continue to expand access through primary care throughout the province as more vaccines are received.
The Premier tasked me with overseeing the development of Ontario’s vaccine rollout plan and associated infrastructure. I have been impressed each day with the leadership and dedication shown during my tenure as Chair of the Task Force and I am confident that the province is set to continue to administer more and more vaccines each day until all Ontarians who are eligible and want a vaccine receive one.
General (Ret’d) Rick Hillier Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force