All essential workers in Ottawa could have first vaccine doses by end of June

OTTAWA — Essential workers in the capital who cannot work from home could have first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, according to the leaders of Ottawa’s vaccine distribution task force.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches and Emergency and Protective Services General Manager Anthony Di Monte released a joint letter on Monday outlining the city’s vaccination priorities over the coming months.

“All essential workers of any age who want to be vaccinated against COVID-19 are anticipated to be vaccinated with their first dose by the end of June 2021, sooner if supplies of vaccine increase,” the letter said.

According to the Ontario government, “workers who cannot work from home” will begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines starting in mid-May. Etches and Di Monte said first among them will be education and childcare workers, food manufacturing workers and workers who respond to critical events, among others.

Education workers who work with students with special needs began receiving vaccines the week of April 12.

Etches and Di Monte urged workers to sign up for the first available vaccine they can, based on any of their eligibility criteria.

“We are grateful for the critical work done by people who cannot work from home. We are encouraging essential workers to access vaccine as it first becomes available to them, such as by age or neighbourhood,” the letter said. “Workers who cannot work from home is a broad category that includes many priority groups whose members may be eligible to be vaccinated based on age or other factors before the Second Priority part of Phase 2 begins.”

Right now, vaccines are available to any resident of Ottawa 60 or older through Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine booking system. People 50 and older who live in select “hot spot” neighbourhoods are also eligible through the provincial booking system. In other priority neighbourhoods, people over 50 are eligible through OPH’s pop-up clinic process.

There are also dozens of pharmacies across Ottawa that are offering vaccines to residents. Starting Tuesday, anyone born in or before 1981 will be eligible to book an appointment for an AstraZeneca vaccine at pharmacies around Ontario.

“At this point, 60 per cent of people in their 60s remain to be vaccinated, and 75% of people in their 50s have not yet been immunized. Preventing each hospitalization possible is important as hospitals are already pressed to provide intensive care for current and projected COVID-19 patients,” Etches and Di Monte said.

The letter added that it’s expected anyone in their 60s who wants a vaccine should have at least one dose by the end of April, and people in their 50s should have their doses by mid-May, clearing the way for the city to focus on younger workers who cannot work from home.

The vaccine rollout has been ramping up in recent weeks. Ottawa Public Health says 60,000 doses of vaccines were administered last week, nearly double the number of doses administered just two weeks prior.

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