covid-19 vaccine news

Ontario helping seniors get to COVID-19 vaccination appointments

The Ontario government is investing $3.7 million, as part of the 2021 budget, to help seniors and people with disabilities get to and from their COVID-19 vaccination appointments. The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon at a press conference headed by Premier Doug Ford.

More details about the program will be released in coming days, but the province will work with local communities and public health units, to implement the service.

“It is critically important to ensure that our most vulnerable get the protection of a COVID-19 vaccine and that’s why we are doing everything we can to remove any and all barriers,” Ford said, adding that the health and safety of seniors and people with disabilities is “a top priority.”

Ford was also asked whether restaurant workers in Ontario will be included in Phase 2 of the province’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

“To confirm, yes, the restaurant workers are going to be vaccinated,” Ford responded.

The confirmation should hopefully clear up some confusion, as workers in the food and beverage industry were not specifically mentioned as part of the Phase 2 list when it was released on March 5—but it’s also raising questions about other groups considered at risk who aren’t part of the phase 2 vaccination rollout.

Approximately 9 million Ontario residents are expected to receive their first vaccination during the Phase 2 rollout between April and July. In addition to restaurant workers, eligible groups will include:

  • Older adults (beginning with those 79 years of age and decreasing in five-year increments over the course of the vaccine rollout); people 60 years of age and older can get the AstraZeneca vaccine.
  • People who live and work in high-risk congregate settings and caregivers in select congregate care settings, essential caregivers.
  • Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and communities at greater risk.
  • Essential frontline workers who cannot work from home (this includes elementary and secondary school staff, retail workers.

More good news for the restaurant industry: the province updated its COVID-19 Response Framework over the weekend, allowing restaurants in the Grey-Lockdown level (i.e., Toronto, Peel Region, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, and Lambton) to operate outdoor dining areas, in addition to providing takeout, delivery and drive-thru services.

Restaurants operating under the Red-Control and Orange-Restrict levels will be allowed to use percentage-based capacity limits, rather than a hard cap of 10 and 50 patrons, respectively. A sign must be visibly posted by each establishment, stating the maximum number of patrons the restaurant is permitted to operate under.

On Tuesday, Ontario reported 1,546 cases of COVID-19, with nearly 32,600 tests completed. The new cases include 465 in Toronto, 329 in Peel, and 161 in York Region.

As of 8:00 p.m. Monday, 1,603,699 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.

While Ontarians aged 75+ can now book vaccination appointments online, York Region is expanding COVID-19 vaccines to residents age 70 years and older. As of Tuesday morning, York Region residents born in 1951 or before were eligible to start booking vaccine appointments.

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Article exclusive to TRNTO