Coronavirus: City of Toronto to begin vaccinating those using homeless shelters

The City of Toronto says COVID-19 vaccines will start to be administered to those experiencing homelessness in the City’s shelter system this week.

In a news release issued Sunday, local officials said the province confirmed this weekend that those experiencing homelessness are part of its Phase 1 priority for vaccines.

“[Toronto Public Health] is working with its health-care partners and the City’s Shelter Support and Housing Administration to identify homeless shelters at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 to begin this important program of vaccination,” the news release read.

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Read more: Ontario COVID-19 vaccine rollout should prioritize neighbourhoods and age: experts

Officials also said that first responders will be among those who continue to be vaccinated this week, and added that as more vaccines become available, more Toronto residents will become eligible to get a shot, including those aged 80 and older.

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“The current approach for vaccine prioritization efforts is to focus on protecting those most at risk of COVID-19 while minimizing the spread of virus,” the news release said.

“Given the limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines presently, a methodical, planned program that focuses on protecting those most at risk and minimizing virus spread is required for vaccination delivery in Toronto.”

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As vaccine supply increases in the coming weeks, eligibility will expand, officials said.

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Toronto Board of Health chair Joe Cressy said that people experiencing homelessness are at a higher risk of serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19.

Cressy also said that with the emergence of more transmissible variants, vaccinating those in congregate settings “is more urgent than ever.”

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