Loading articles...

Province to accelerate vaccinations for most vulnerable as it struggles with Pfizer delay

Last Updated Jan 25, 2021 at 12:02 pm EST

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, file photo, a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 sits on a table at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Conn. New research suggests that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine can protect against a mutation found in two contagious variants of the coronavirus that erupted in Britain and South Africa. Those variants are causing global concern. They both share a common mutation called N501Y, a slight alteration on one spot of the spike protein that coats the virus. That change is believed to be the reason they can spread so easily. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

As a result of the Pfizer vaccine shortage, the Ontario government says it is speeding up when the most vulnerable groups get their first doses by 10 days.

That means other groups deemed not as high-risk, including long-term care staff and essential caregivers, will have to wait longer to be vaccinated.

It’s a trade-off the province deems necessary due to the ongoing supply shortage.

“We have taken the approach to focus on the most vulnerable populations, in light of temporarily reduced vaccine availability from the federal government and uncertainty about the stability of supply, as well as provincial epidemiology,” the Ministry of Health said in a release.

The province said it plans to accelerate the vaccination of all long-term care, high-risk retirement, and First Nations elder care residents across Ontario, with first doses administered by February 5, 2020 — 10 days faster than originally scheduled.

The province warns that the new, faster timeline is contingent on no further delivery delays.

The Ministry will also “reallocate vaccines to ensure the 14 public health units that have not received any vaccine to date can begin to vaccinate their vulnerable populations starting this week.”

The accelerated plan will also see delays in when some receive their second doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Outside of the most vulnerable residents, the province is extending the intervals between dose 1 and 2 for all other groups to no more than 42 days for the Pfizer vaccine. Moderna vaccinations will remain at the 28-day interval.

Because of the current Pfizer vaccine shortage, no new doses will be received in Ontario this week. Next week over 26,000 are expected to be received.

Adding to the uncertainty of vaccine supply, the province says the federal government has not given Ontario its allocated vaccines for the week of Fed. 8 or 15.

The province has administered over 285,000 doses of vaccine since it first became available.