Residents across 31 remote and isolated First Nation communities in Northern Ontario now have their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, as Ornge’s Operation Remote Immunity continues.

In a prepared statement, Ontario and Ornge say they’ve visited and offered first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to all 31 fly-in northern communities and Moosonee to all residents over the age of 18.

"This was a true team effort. We sincerely appreciate the tremendous support we are receiving from the government, community leadership and our partners," said Dr. Homer Tien, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ornge. 

"This milestone was only achieved because of the communities themselves. The community coordinators helped overcome vaccine hesitancy, rostered the community members and organized vaccine clinics. We are honoured that we could help them protect their own communities."

Ontario says Operation Remote Immunity was launched to protect residents of First Nations elder care homes and Indigenous communities in remote areas, who face disproportionate risks from COVID-19. The plan was developed in partnership with leadership from the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. 

Vaccination teams consist of medical professionals from a variety of healthcare partners, and they’ve all received the vaccine. They aim to complete their work by April 30, with second doses being given out in six communities at this time but will expand soon.

"The delivery and administration of vaccines to these communities is an outstanding example of Ontario and Indigenous leadership working together to fight this pandemic on the ground where Indigenous populations are most at risk," said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs.

"This would not have been possible without the support of leaders and residents in these fly-in communities in promoting vaccination and helping to set up vaccination sites, ensuring the most at-risk community members are protected."

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is asked to get tested and self-isolate immediately, and to stay in isolation until your test results are known.