More than 36,000 vaccine doses have been given to people over age 80 in Toronto by hospital and clinic partners, including seniors who live in congregate care settings who were already part of the Province’s first phase of vaccine rollout.
The City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health are working with the Province of Ontario and health sector and community partners to vaccinate people across Toronto as quickly as possible to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Government of Canada is responsible for obtaining the supply of COVID-19 vaccines; the Province has responsibility for distributing the vaccines and identifying priority groups established under the Province’s framework; and Toronto is responsible for supporting the administration of the vaccine in accordance with provincial prioritization and scheduling frameworks as vaccines are provided by the Province.
On February 14, the Province amended their prioritization framework for COVID-19 vaccination to include 80 years of age and over living independently in the community. In accordance with the update, hospital and health sector partners have since included a small number of Torontonians born in 1941 or earlier living in the community in their local vaccine clinics to test operations as their respective vaccine availability permits.
Vaccinations of people born in 1941 and earlier has taken place at a number of sites, including hospitals and congregate care locations where more than half of the residents are over 64 years of age. Individuals are identified through partner organizations and hospitals and visited by mobile teams or contacted by a healthcare organization directly. Appointments are being conducted through established internal systems, like those used to book medical appointments or schedule surgeries. While these efforts are ongoing, people should not reach out proactively to local hospitals or clinics. Vaccine supply continues to be limited and those administering vaccines at this time are contacting people to participate in these pilots as vaccine is available.
Wider availability of COVID-19 vaccines for those who are born in 1941 and earlier will occur once more vaccines are available, and the provincial appointment and scheduling system is online. The Province’s centralized online booking system is expected to launch on March 15. The Province will also be launching a dedicated call centre to serve people who are unable to use the online appointment system. A fact sheet, What seniors need to know about COVID-19 vaccinations,” is available on toronto.ca: https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/8ef0-DS-21-0029-COTMassImmunizationFactSheetSeniorsFinalWeb.pdf .
The City is continuing physical setup of the nine City-operated immunization clinics that will operate when vaccine supply is established and the City is directed by the Province to open. All clinics are on track to be ready to open on or before April 1. Once fully operational – seven days per week, nine hours per day – it is estimated that more than 130,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses will be able to be administered each week through the network of City-operated clinics, subject to vaccine availability. Physical setup of six clinic locations is complete, with work on a seventh starting next week. More information on City-operated clinics is available online: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-protect-yourself-others/covid-19-vaccines/covid-19-how-to-get-vaccinated/?accordion=city-immunization-clinics.
Once the supply of vaccine is established, there will be many and varied opportunities for vaccination for all residents. Immunization clinics will be carried out by the City, hospitals, Ontario Health Team and community partners, mobile clinic staff, targeted community response and the widespread availability of vaccine through family doctors and pharmacies. The City is working with partners to update the existing online City-operated clinic map to show neighbourhood COVID-19 vaccination options once established.
Residents will be notified when future appointments are available through multiple communication channels, including on the City’s website, social media and through media and community partners. Residents are urged to remain patient and will be notified as more appointment bookings become available.
As Toronto awaits the rollout of mass immunization, to reduce and eliminate the transmission of COVID-19, protect the healthcare system and save lives, the City continues to urge all residents to stay home as much as possible to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Please review the City’s simple “Dos” and “Don’ts” guide for recommended and mandatory public health measures. The guide communicates some of what is and what is not permitted under provincial regulations and City bylaws. The guide can be found at www.toronto.ca/lockdownguide.