Adults over 50 living in COVID-19 hotspot neighbourhoods, various frontline workers, and those with a wide range of health conditions will soon qualify to receive a vaccine as Ontario prepares to roll out Phase 2 of its vaccine plan.
A new document released by the province Tuesday evening lays out exactly who will be eligible once Phase 2 officially begins in April. The document includes some modifications to the original plan and provides some more detail about who will be eligible.
One of the changes under the revised guidelines provided from the province is that adults over 50 in certain hotspot neighbourhoods will be eligible in Phase 2.
Most public health units within the GTA have been acknowledged by the province to contain hotspot areas with increased COVID-19 transmission.
In Toronto, public health officials have identified the Northwest part of the city and certain parts of Scarborough as areas where COVID-19 transmission has been high.
The province says that adults living in hotspot areas should be vaccinated, starting with the oldest and working down to those who are 50 and over.
Adults 50+ in the highest risk communities will be offered vaccines in April while those in the remaining hotspot communities will be offered vaccines in May.
Those with health conditions included
The new guidelines also spell out exactly what sort of conditions will qualify people for a vaccine under Phase 2. Those with health conditions are divided into three groups: highest risk, high risk, and at-risk.
Those in the highest risk category will be prioritized first. They include organ transplant recipients, certain stem cell recipients, those with neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised, those with haematological cancers, and those with kidney disease.
The next highest priority group includes those who are obese, those receiving treatments causing immunosuppression, and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The third group includes a wide range of conditions, including stroke, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, respiratory diseases, dementia, all other types of cancer, heart disease, hypertension with end organ damage, mental disorders, substance use disorders, sickle cell disease, pregnancy, immunocompromising health conditions, liver disease, spleen problems, thalassemia, and disabilities requiring direct support care in the community.
The province says the identified health conditions are those which have been found to increase the risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection.
The highest risk group and their caregivers will be offered a vaccine at the start of April, followed by the next group in late April and the third group in mid-May.
Ontario health officials are also acknowledging that the province’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout will move at a different pace depending on which area people live in.
In the guidance document, the province says that it is “trying to ensure provincial consistency while maintaining regional and local flexibility to respond to local and regional contacts and data.”
Provincial officials also acknowledge that “it is likely that vaccination of Phase 2 populations will begin before all Phase 1 populations have been offered the first dose of vaccine, and that there will be overlap of the end of Phase 1 in the beginning of Phase 2.”
Anyone who became eligible in Phase 1 will continue to be eligible in Phase 2 and beyond.
The document reflects the reality that is already unfolding on the ground. Some public health units have already moved on to start vaccinating those who are 70 and over, despite provincial guidelines indicating that age group will only start receiving vaccines in late April.
And despite the fact that the guidance document still indicates that those 75 and over will become eligible at the start of April, the province opened vaccine bookings to all those 75 and over on Monday.
Many essential workers included
Broadly, adults between 60 and 79, those living in high-risk congregate settings and essential workers who cannot work from home are also among those included in Phase 2.
The first group of workers includes education workers, school bus drivers, food manufacturing workers and others.
The second group includes front-facing government workers, essential retail workers, restaurant workers, social workers, court workers, public transit workers and others.
A full list of those who are eligible is posted on the province’s website.
Phase 2 officially runs from April to July and will include 9 million people, according to the provincial plan.
Phase 3, where any adult below 59 years old can get a shot, is officially set to begin in July.
However officials have said that the program is expected to progress more quickly, with vaccines expected to arrive in larger quantities and with the adoption of a policy spacing out first and second doses four months apart.
Get the flu shot: Public Health – Quinte News
Local public health officials says getting the flu shot this year is especially important to reduce the risk of illness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since many people are vulnerable to serious risks related to the flu, officials say everyone can help reduce the spread by getting vaccinated.
In a release, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health points out that it’s safe to get the flu vaccine at the same time as, or any time before or after the COVID-19 vaccine.
They point out influenza can be a serious disease and can lead to pneumonia or organ failure.
Statement from Hastings Prince Edward Public Health:
Getting the flu vaccine is especially important this year, to reduce your risk of illness during the COVID-19 pandemic. As many people are vulnerable to serious risks related to the flu, everyone can help reduce the spread by getting vaccinated. Your choice to get vaccinated will also help ensure critical health care resources are available to those who need them most. It’s safe to get the flu vaccine at the same time as, or any time before or after the COVID-19 vaccine, so do not delay – protect yourself with these important vaccines today!
Influenza is not caused by the viruses that cause COVID-19 or a cold. It can be a serious disease that causes some individuals to be in bed for a week or longer. It can also lead to complications such as pneumonia or organ failure. Vaccinated individuals are less likely to have severe complications and end up in the hospital – which will help ensure health care resources are available to those who need them most.
This year, residents are encouraged to seek their flu vaccination as soon as possible through their health care provider or a pharmacy. As public health resources continue to be redeployed to the COVID-19 pandemic, HPEPH is not able to offer community flu clinics to the general public this year. However, flu vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself and those you love from serious illness and complications. Getting your flu vaccine early is the best way to protect yourself from the flu, as it can take up to two weeks to build immunity. The vaccine is available to individuals over 2 years of age at local pharmacies, and everyone over 6 months of age can receive the flu vaccination from their health care provider. HPEPH is considering the feasibility of offering small flu vaccination clinics to populations who are unable to receive the vaccine through these avenues, but any such clinics are dependant on the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination and local case rates, as resources continue to be required for COVID-19 case and contact management.
“You got your COVID-19 vaccine – now it’s time to protect yourself, and those you love, from the flu,” says Dr. Ethan Toumishey, Acting Medical Officer of Health at HPEPH. “The COVID-19 vaccine has shown us how important and effective vaccines can be at reducing the severity of illness. While the COVID-19 vaccine reduces your risk of complications from COVID-19, it won’t protect you from the flu.”
To reduce the spread of illness in the community, all residents should continue public health precautions. The same measures that are helping control the spread of COVID-19 will help reduce the spread of seasonal influenza. If you have symptoms of the flu, stay home and follow testing guidance for COVID-19. Even if you are vaccinated against both the flu and COVID-19, you can still get a mild case of these illnesses and spread them to others. The same public health precautions that prevent the spread of COVID-19, will prevent the spread of the flu.
- Stay home when you are sick
- Get tested for COVID-19 (if advised by screening)
- Wash your hands often
- Cover your cough and sneeze
- Clean frequently touched surfaces often
- Get vaccinated.
For more information, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/flu-facts
Canada signs deal with Pfizer for millions of pediatric COVID-19 vaccine doses- PM Trudeau
Canada has signed a deal with Pfizer Inc to receive 2.9 million doses of their pediatric COVID-19 vaccine shortly after it is approved for use by Health Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.
“We will be receiving enough doses in Canada to ensure that all children in Canada, aged five to 11, can receive the vaccine,” said Trudeau. The vaccine is currently being reviewed by Health Canada.
(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa, Editing by Franklin Paul)
Canada government, provinces agree COVID-19 vaccine travel passport – officials
Canada’s federal government and the 10 provinces have agreed on a standard COVID-19 electronic vaccination passport allowing domestic and foreign travel, government officials told reporters on Thursday.
The deal prevents possible confusion that could be caused if each of the provinces – which have primary responsibility for health care – issued their own unique certificates. The officials spoke on the condition they not be identified.
The document will have a federal Canadian identifying mark and meets major international smart health card standards.
“Many (countries) have said they want to see a digital … verifiable proof of vaccination, which is what we’re delivering,” said one official.
In addition, federal officials are talking to nations that are popular with Canadian travelers to brief them about the document.
The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced earlier this month that from Oct 30, people wishing to travel domestically by plane, train or ship would have to show proof of full vaccination.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Alistair Bell)
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