Ontario doctors recommend those at highest risk of getting COVID-19 be vaccinated first


Ontario’s doctors are recommending that those at highest risk of contracting COVID-19 — including physicians and health-care workers, first responders and seniors living in long-term care and retirement homes — get vaccinated first.

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) says the COVID-19 vaccines will “likely be limited and staggered” for several months after they receive approval from Health Canada.

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“We’re encouraged that several vaccines appear close to being approved, but it’s critical that planning and related communications begin now, so we are ready to start administering them as soon as they become available,” OMA CEO Allan O’Dette said in a statement.

“Ontario’s doctors will work with the COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force to ensure the ethical, timely and effective distribution of COVID vaccines in Ontario.”

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The Ontario COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force will be led by retired general Rick Hillier and will advise on the province’s development and implementation of a novel coronavirus immunization program.

“Our goal is to make sure that all front-line health-care workers, long-term care workers, rural, northern, Indigenous communities get taken care of,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said at a press conference Wednesday.

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Ontario’s doctors say other groups that need to be prioritized for vaccination in subsequent phases include critical infrastructure workers — including transit, grocery store and food production employees — as well as teachers and school staff, people living in communal facilities — like shelters or prisons — and all other seniors who don’t live in nursing or retirement homes.

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At a news conference Wednesday, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott confirmed the province’s vaccine task force is looking at who will receive the vaccine first.

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“There’s also going to be a bioethicist who’s going to be involved in that to make sure that the choices that are made as to who gets the first vaccines are made fairly and equitably,” the health minister said.

“There’s no question that our most vulnerable will be among them — our residents in long-term care homes and other congregate settings, front-line health-care workers.”

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According to the OMA, doctors and other health-care workers have “significantly higher than average” exposure to the novel coronavirus.

“When there was no vaccine, doctors did what we had to do to so we could care for our patients, but many personal support workers, nurses, doctors and other front-line workers paid a high price,” OMA president Dr. Samantha Hill said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the Ontario government said it’ll be ready to receive COVID-19 vaccines by Dec. 31, with the first doses of vaccines expected to be made available in 2021. Ford has said he’s pushing the federal government on a clear delivery date for Ontario’s share of vaccines.

Health Canada is currently reviewing approval for four novel coronavirus vaccines. The candidates are from the companies Janssen, Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

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— With files from Global News’ Gabby Rodrigues, Katie Dangerfield and The Canadian Press


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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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