Published Friday, February 19, 2021 2:32PM EST
The province issued a memo to hospitals over the weekend saying that members of the general population who are 80 years and over are now being moved into the Phase 1 group for vaccinations and on Friday they released further details.
Phase 1 already includes health-care workers, chronic home care patients and long-term care home residents and staff and is expected to run through the end of March.
The logistics of how an estimated 643,000 older seniors will be contacted to receive a shot are still being worked out.
The province is still developing a registration portal that was piloted in Toronto for two days last month. While the pilot was short, officials said many people used it to register and that gave them valuable insight into the IT requirements of running it.
The province has not said exactly when the portal will be operational. When it is up and running, people will be asked for their health card number when they register, though it will not be an absolute requirement and other forms of ID may be accepted.
A call desk is also being set up for those who are not comfortable making appointments online and the province said it may reach out to some seniors through their family doctors.
The province said it is working out how to distribute the vaccine doses to older seniors in partnership with local public health units and further details about the rollout are expected to be released in the coming weeks.
Health officials are cautioning, however, that even once a person is vaccinated, they will still be advised to follow the same health restrictions as the general population as questions remain as to whether vaccinated individuals may possibly be asymptomatic carriers.
As of Feb. 18, some 217,000 people had been fully vaccinated in Ontario. Others who have received a single shot so far include 63,000 long-term care home residents and more than 34,000 retirement home residents.
Phase 1 is expected to run through the end of March and will include a period of transition to Phase 2.
Set to formally begin in April and run through the end of July, Phase 2 will extend vaccinations to some 2.8 million members of the general population between the ages of 60 and 79, as well as roughly 2 million frontline essential workers, 3.1 million individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers, 660 thousand people who are part of at-risk populations and another 157,000 people living and working in other high risk congregate settings.
Vaccinations for all remaining members of Ontario’s general population are currently projected to begin in August.