Ontario Begins COVID-19 Vaccination Program

On December 9, 2020, Health Canada authorized the first COVID-19 vaccine in Canada. In Ontario, Phase One of the vaccination program started December 15, 2020, with frontline health care workers being the first people to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Ontario government has developed a three-phase plan to receive, store, and administer COVID-19 vaccines to eligible Ontario residents as soon as they are received.

Phase One began with a pilot project in Toronto and Ottawa which will eventually include the vaccination of over 2,500 health care workers with the Health Canada approved vaccine.

This pilot project is the result of a collaborative effort between the Public Health Agency of Canada. Pilot sites in Toronto and Ottawa have begun receiving doses of the vaccine to be administered to health care workers who are providing care in hospitals and long-term care homes.

This pilot will help inform the province's preparedness plan to receive larger vaccine quantities as it moves forward in Phase One, providing the opportunity to test all stages of the vaccination program. This pilot also allows our government to learn from those being immunized so other sites will be ready when they receive the vaccine in the coming weeks and months.

The two locations were selected for the pilot because this will test the travel logistics in two different regions of the province. In addition, these sites already have the equipment necessary to safely store the vaccine and the trained staff to handle the vaccine. Since this vaccine cannot be transferred beyond the initial delivery location at this time, vaccinations will be given to health care workers in high-risk areas such as long-term care and critical care units in the Toronto and Ottawa regions.

Phase One will continue with the following key milestones:

  • It is expected that 90,000 doses received from the federal government will be delivered to sites in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones in what is left of December, to vaccinate health care workers in hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and other congregate settings caring for seniors. More vaccines will become available once they are approved by Health Canada.
  • In early 2021, the expansion of additional hospital sites providing the vaccine in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones, with continued vaccination provided to health care workers and, with the appropriate safety protocols, to long-term care home and retirement home residents.
  • It is anticipated that over 20 hospitals across the province will be administering vaccines by the end of January 2021. An expansion of the number of locations to administer vaccines eventually approved by Health Canada would include long-term care homes, retirement homes, public health units, other congregate care settings, and in First Nations, Métis and Indigenous populations.

When an increased stockpile of vaccines becomes available to Ontario, the province will shift to Phase Two of its vaccination implementation plan, which is expected to begin later in the winter of 2021.

During Phase Two, vaccinations will be administered to health care workers, as well as to residents in long-term care homes and retirement homes, to home care patients with chronic conditions and to additional First Nation communities and urban Indigenous populations, including Métis and Inuit adults.

Ontario will enter Phase Three when there are enough vaccines available for every Ontarian who wishes to be immunized. While vaccines will not be mandatory, people will be strongly encouraged to get vaccinated during Phase Three.

Last updated: December 18, 2020 4006443