Ontario Premier Doug Ford says help is on its way, when it comes to vaccines.

"Our number one goal is to vaccinate everyone. We're going to do mass vaccinations in April, May and June. That's approximately 160,000 vaccinations a day," he said earlier today.

The province's roll out program will prioritize long-term care, as well as remote First Nation communities. Then the program will look to vaccinate the elderly, the premier added.

The premier agreed it doesn't seem fair to have restrictions in place, when the number of active cases in the area are low. However, he says he's following the advice of public health experts.

Six new cases were added to the catchment area for the health unit this morning. They're added to the nine active cases being followed by the health unit yesterday. 

In late December, health experts issued a dire warning to the provincial government. With new variants of the coronavirus from the U.K. and South Africa, the experts offered some sobering numbers about how quickly cases might spread.

The expert said Ontario might see 3,000 new cases a day in January, and 50 deaths a day in the province by February, if we didn't go through a province-wide shutdown. The 14-day province-wide lockdown started Dec. 26, and it was extended for 28 days Jan. 12, due to the continuing high numbers across the province.

During his phone interview this morning, Ontario Premier Doug Ford talked about having to deliver bad news, when it comes to the province's policy on public health restrictions.

"Someone has to step up and deliver the message, and I'm delivering the message from our chief medical officer and our 34 medical officers. I don't like doing it, but somebody has to get up there and deliver that message," he said.

He compared it to getting bad news from your doctor. While you may not like what the doctor's saying, you have to listen, the premier noted.

"I hate closing businesses. I'm a businessman. It took them five hours for them to convince me," he said, during today's interview. 

When it came to restrictions in the northwest, the premier was candid.

"Personally, I don't think it's fair. If the cases are low, then there should be a little more flexibility, but again I've gotta follow the doctor's orders," he added, noting he's following the medical advice from public health experts.

Experts have warned against a zone approach, saying cases have spread from a high-risk area to one with few cases in the past. 

However, Ford also emphasized that help was on its way, when it comes to the vaccination program. The premier expects the program will pick up substantially this spring, with more doses arriving.

In her daily briefing this morning, the medical officer of health Dr. Kit Young Hoon talked about preparations for the vaccination program, including efforts to vaccinate long-term care home staff and residents.

She noted there have been 13 hospitalizations in the catchment area, including three patients currently in hospital battling COVID-19.

The district hospital released  the plan for vaccinations last week. While short on specific dates, times or locations, the plan said doses of the vaccine should arrive by the end of January for:

  • essential caregivers,
  • long-term caregivers and
  • high-risk retirement homes.

The first phase called for vaccinations to:

  • seniors,
  • health care workers,
  • First Nations and
  • adults with chronic conditions getting home care.

There could be a combination of:

  • specialized vaccination sites,
  • mobile vaccination sites and
  • mass vaccination sites. 

As the vaccination program progressed, it would then cover seniors over 80-years-of-age, high-risk congregate settings, essential workers and frontline staff, those with chronic conditions and their caregivers and the general population. 

As the roll out plan moved along, vaccinations would be provided through:

  • hospitals,
  • pharmacies,
  • clinics,
  • primary care and
  • strategic locations within communities. 

For more information:

Six new cases of COVID reported across the region

Premier Doug Ford on the Q Morning Show

Test​ results by region

COVID-19 vaccines for Ontario