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ONTARIO: Province expects to receive Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday: Hillier

Roughly 50,000 doses are set to be delivered to four sites, then redistributed to long-term care and retirement homes

TORONTO — The head of Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine program says the province expects to receive the Moderna shot on Wednesday, with immunizations to start in long-term care homes soon after.

Retired Gen. Rick Hillier says roughly 50,000 doses are set to be delivered to four sites, then redistributed to long-term care and retirement homes.

He says immunizations should begin at those sites within 48 to 72 hours after the vaccine is received.

Meanwhile, Ontario's finance minister says he is self-isolating after taking a "planned personal trip" outside of Canada earlier this month.

Rod Phillips says in a statement that he and his wife left the country after the end of the provincial legislative session on Dec. 8.

He says had he known Ontario would be placed under a province-wide lockdown on Boxing Day, he would have cancelled the trip.

News of his travel came as Ontario reported nearly 4,500 new cases of COVID-19 over two days and a total of 78 new deaths.

The province said 2,553 new infections were recorded Tuesday and 1,939 on Monday.

Ontario also reported 37 new deaths on Sunday and 41 more on Monday.

Provincial COVID-19 data were not released Monday due to the holiday.

Of Tuesday's case tally, 895 were in Toronto, 496 in Peel Region, 147 in Windsor-Essex, 144 in Hamilton and 142 in York Region.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said 34,112 tests were completed on Monday and 39,565 the previous day.

Ontario's chief medical officer of health is expected to provide an update on the pandemic Tuesday afternoon. 

Vaccinations in Ontario were also expected to return to full operations Tuesday after being scaled down over the holidays.

The province has said five vaccination clinics were open on Sunday, 10 were back in action Monday and all of them were set to resume immunizations Tuesday.

Hillier said the call to close clinics over Christmas Day and Boxing Day was the "wrong decision." 

"We've heard the voices of the people of Ontario, saying 'get on with this,' and that's what we are going to do," he said Tuesday.

More than 14,000 people in the province have received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot as of Tuesday morning, he said.

The storage requirement for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine means it will be used primarily in hospitals, while the more recently approved Moderna vaccine will go to long-term care homes, congregate settings and more rural communities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 29, 2020.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press


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