Medical experts in Ontario calling for creative strategies in next phase of COVID-19 vaccine rollout

In Ontario, medical teams have worked around the clock to vaccinate people in hot spots regions. For the last two weeks, Ontario designated 50 per cent of its incoming vaccine supply to hard-hit areas as a targeted effort to reduce transmission.

Throughout the weekend, clinics have run across the GTA, with many people 18 years and older more than ready to roll up their sleeves. Long lineups and thousands of doses have been encouraging signs in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

The all-night “Doses after Dark” vaccine clinic in Peel Region has been touted a success. One of the big wins was helping people get access who cannot afford to wait in line during the day.

Read more: Ontario reports nearly 2,200 new COVID-19 cases, 30 more deaths

“This is an opportunity for people in other sectors such as manufacturing, shift work, taxi drivers, truck drivers and alternate workplaces who just can’t come,” said Paul Sharma, one of the co-leads for the mass vaccination program in Peel Region.

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Now that so many people have received a first dose, experts are looking at what’s next as the rollout continues, especially when it comes to allocating vaccines.

“The inherent danger is that there is this fall back just to a per capita location and that this stays fixed,” said Dr. Peter Juni, the scientific director of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Table. “That’s what we should avoid.”

Juni is calling on the province to be flexible going forward as the needs will not be the same from one region to the next, even in hot spot regions.

“There will be some hot spots that say we have enough vaccines and we just need to make sure that we are able to cover our population in this neighbourhood,” said Juni.

“Others might say it’s great if they can continue to have a bit more, and this probably should be individualized.”

Click to play video: 'Ramped up vaccine roll out in Ontario prompts questions about what is needed to start reopening the economy' Ramped up vaccine roll out in Ontario prompts questions about what is needed to start reopening the economy

Ramped up vaccine roll out in Ontario prompts questions about what is needed to start reopening the economy

Dr. Jeff Kwong is a family physician and a senior scientist with ICES. He watches the data closely, and knows it will take some creative thinking to reach some portions of the population.

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“We will need to look at alternative strategies, so, for instance, going door-to-door might not be as efficient, but it may be more effective to reach certain people,” said Kwong.

The worst-case scenario would be having doses and medical teams at the ready, but no arms to jab.

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