UPDATED: Mayor says COVID-19 vaccine no quick fix

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It will likely be late 2021 or early 2022 before most people in Ontario have received the COVID-19 vaccine, Mayor Jason Baker warned.


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Baker, along with the other Ontario heads of municipal council, took part in an electronic conference Tuesday with Premier Doug Ford, Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark and other top officials involved with Ontario’s vaccine strategy, including retired general Rick Hillier, who is leading Ontario’s vaccine task force.

Canada will receive up to 249,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this month. On Wednesday, Health Canada approved the vaccine.

Baker told Tuesday evening’s regular council meeting the province is planning a phased approach, but added that, based on what he heard from the provincial officials, the bulk of the population won’t start getting vaccinated until around April.

That process, the second phase of the vaccination effort, is expected to take six to nine months, said the mayor.

The worst-case scenario in that timeline would thus not see everyone get vaccinated until January 2022.

Baker brought up the timeline to remind area residents not to let their guard down as the vaccine provides a light at the end of the tunnel.

“This is a serious health issue and it’s not yet over,” said the mayor.

Baker reiterated medical officer of health Dr. Paula Stewart’s warning on Monday to remain vigilant with public health measures, including the wearing of masks, physical distancing, frequent hand-washing and the limiting of social gatherings, after a spike in new COVID cases in the tri-county area over the weekend.


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Reached on Wednesday, Clark confirmed the timeline, noting Hillier outlined the schedule at the conference.

Hillier said the province should be able to vaccinate 1.2 million people during the first three months of 2021. He said the province expects a total of 2.4 million two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna by then.

In addition to the most vulnerable congregate living residents and health-care workers, the province will prioritize hot zones first, such as Toronto and Peel. Hillier said a particular focus will be on long-term care and retirement homes that have needed additional support during the pandemic.

The second phase of the immunization campaign, expected to begin in April, is when the bulk of vaccines will start to arrive. The province will then prioritize groups beyond the most vulnerable and health-care workers.

The third phase of Ontario’s immunization campaign, into 2022, will be similar to the way flu and shingles vaccines are offered, through pharmacies, physicians and health units, said Hillier.

Adults in Indigenous communities and recipients of chronic home health-care will also be considered priority groups at the outset.

The vaccine must be administered in two shots, 21 days apart, Clark noted.

The minister and local MPP said “it’s too early to tell” when, in the vaccination timeline, life can return to some semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy.

He was also not sure when the vaccine would find its way to this area, which on Wednesday remained a green zone, denoting the least severe level of infection.

“That’s part of the logistics that are being worked out right now,” said Clark.

(With files from Postmedia Network and The Canadian Press)

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