TORONTO, Canada — With over 82 percent of eligible Ontarians aged 12 and over having received one dose of the vaccine and 75 per cent having received both doses, the government is continuing its last-mile strategy to reach eligible individuals who have yet to receive a first or second dose. These latest efforts continue to make vaccines readily and conveniently available, especially in lower-vaccinated areas, and include proactively contacting individuals who have not booked their accelerated second dose appointment.
“Vaccines are the best protection against COVID-19 and the Delta variant,” said Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health. “Working with our public health partners we are continuing make it easier and more convenient to receive the vaccine. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet and have questions, I encourage you to reach out to your pharmacy, family doctor or primary care provider.”
To support the province’s last-mile strategy, the province and public health units are focusing on smaller, community-based and easy-to-access settings for vaccinations. This includes mobile clinics and community-based pop-ups, dedicated clinic days for families with people with disabilities, and town hall meetings in multiple languages. In addition, the province is working with public health units to target areas with low vaccination rates, as identified by postal codes, to support localized vaccination strategies as well as targeted marketing by the province in these areas.
To ensure all eligible Ontarians benefit from the strong protection offered by both doses of the vaccine as soon as possible, the provincial call centre is calling Ontarians to remind them to rebook their accelerated second dose appointments. Over 110,000 second dose appointments have been successfully booked or rebooked through this initiative.
A key component of Ontario’s last-mile strategy is bringing the vaccines directly to people, where they are located. To date, Ontario’s GO-VAXX bus clinic has administered 1,100 vaccine doses, 42 percent of which were first doses.
“Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign has been a collective success. While we can certainly take pride in our immunization achievements, there is still work to be done to ensure everyone is protected,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “That’s why we are shifting focus in this last mile, from mass vaccination clinics to community-based settings using strategies such as mobile clinics and GO-VAXX buses to reach Ontarians who have yet to receive a first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.”
Public health units are also partnering with elementary and secondary school boards, colleges and universities to make vaccines readily available for all students returning to school. This includes youth who were born in 2009 and will turn 12 this year.
“This is my call to arms,” said Dr Kieran Moore, chief medical officer of health. “It is vital for everyone who can to receive both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. We are implementing many community-based initiatives so everyone can easily receive their vaccine, especially those who live in areas with lower vaccination rates. We will continue to monitor data to determine when it is safe to exit the roadmap and get life back to normal.”
The success of Ontario’s vaccine rollout, which has resulted in one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, is having an impact and continues to protect Ontarians against the virus. Between December 14, 2020, and August 7, 2021, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated cases accounted for the majority (99.4 percent) of COVID-19 cases reported. Similarly, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated cases accounted for 99.2 percent of hospitalizations, and 98.8 per cent of deaths during the same time period.
In response to evolving data around the transmissibility of the Delta variant and based on the recent experiences of other jurisdictions, recently the government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, paused exiting the Roadmap to Reopen. This additional time will allow the province to further increase immunization rates by engaging in targeted strategies to make it easier and more convenient for individuals to get vaccinated.