‘Healthcare system is really ready to step up’: Ontario’s doctors, nurses and pharmacists await details on vaccination plans

TORONTO — As most Ontarians wait for details on where and when they will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, so too do the people who will be tasked with administering it.

“We’re certainly getting patients already calling us right now to ask us questions about the vaccine,” the president of the Ontario College of Family Physicians told CTV News Toronto.

Dr. Elizabeth Muggah said doctors are already involved in immunizing those in long-term care homes, and are ready to assist with mass vaccination centres – or to provide vaccines in their offices or through home visits.

Ontario’s nurses are also already involved in the vaccination rollout, and expect their role will grow as the vaccination efforts grow too.

The CEO of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario said they have recommended to provincial health officials that nurses currently providing home care, be enabled to provide the vaccine to Ontarians who would have difficulty leaving their homes.

Doris Grinspun told CTV News Toronto she has concerns about the preparations for a vaccination campaign that could begin in weeks – given that she believes Ontario was unprepared for the first, and second waves of the virus.

“Will we be ready this time?” Grinspun asked. “I very much hope yes. Because we haven’t heard the specifics on where will people go to get the vaccinations, when they will go.”

Ontario’s 34 public health units are preparing plans for how the vaccines will be distributed in their local communities.

Mass vaccination sites, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies are expected to be the key points of contact for the vaccination effort.

The CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association says his organization is in communication with provincial officials on how best to handle the distribution, storage, and delivery of the vaccine in the province’s pharmacies.

Justin Bates told CTV News Toronto “our capacity is, under optimal conditions – assuming there’s enough supply of course, that we could do per pharmacy per day, 46 vaccinations. So in a seven-day period that’s over a million in the province of Ontario.”

Dr. Muggah says she expects getting Ontarians immunized will involved a multi-pronged approach across the provinces healthcare system – once the vaccines and the plans to distribute them are available.

“I have confidence that the plans are robust, that they will be tailored to the needs of those communities I mean I’d absolutely like to see the plans now so we could be even more prepared but I would say as a whole the health care system is really ready to step up.”

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