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WATCH: Vulnerable populations will be first in line for COVID-19 vaccines

Those living in COVID-19 hot zones will also be prioritized

The Ontario government has identified the key populations that will be first in line to receive COVID-19 vaccines when they become available.

The government's approach prioritizes population groups that are at greatest risks of COVID-19.

Groups receiving the early vaccine doses in the first few months of the Ontario immunization program will include:

  • Residents, staff, essential caregivers, and other employees of congregate living settings (long-term care homes and retirement homes) that provide care for seniors as they are at higher risk of infection and serious illness from COVID-19;
  • Health care workers, including hospital employees, other staff who work or study in hospitals, and other health care personnel;
  • Adults in Indigenous communities, including remote communities where risk of transmission is high; and
  • Adult recipients of chronic home health care.

Ontario will also be prioritizing the rollout of the vaccine in regions with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection, including those in the Red-Control and Lockdown zones.

The immunization program will focus on healthcare workers and the most vulnerable populations in those regions.

"We must deploy these first shipments of a safe and effective vaccine where they will make the most impact and save lives. That means vaccinating our vulnerable seniors and those who care for them as soon as possible," said Premier Doug Ford. 

"We are working diligently with General Hillier and the task force to ensure anyone in Ontario who needs a vaccine will get one when we receive them from the federal government. Until then, we are asking people to look out for their elderly loved ones and protect themselves by continuing to follow the public health measures."

At first, COVID-19 vaccines are expected to only be available for non-pregnant adults over the age of 18 years old based on early clinical trials. As further information becomes available from clinical trials and from Health Canada approvals, the groups for which the vaccines are authorized for use could change.

"Ontario is ready to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to Ontarians as soon as they are available, and that starts with vaccinating our most vulnerable and those at greatest risk," said Elliott. 

"Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all Ontarians, so we will make sure that no matter where they are receiving a vaccine, they will have a fast and safe immunization experience."