With the official approval and roll-out of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario earlier this week, a remaining question is when will the vaccine reach northwestern Ontario?

“Those plans are ongoing,” explained Medical Officer of Health for the NWHU, Dr. Kit Young-Hoon, during her regional media conference on Tuesday.

At this point, Ontario says they’ll be prioritizing the roll-out of the vaccine in regions with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection, including those in the Red-Control and Lockdown zones, such as Toronto, Hamilton and the Durham regions. An Ottawa-based healthcare worker received the first vaccine earlier this week.

The NWHU region was moved into the Yellow-Protect category late last month, meaning we likely won’t be getting any of the initial 250,000 doses expected in Ontario by the end of year. We could move back to Green-Prevent by Christmas day.

As the program expands across the province, those considered most-vulnerable and healthcare workers will receive the first doses when COVID-19 vaccines do reach the region.

Dr. Young-Hoon says there’s still no timeline on when that could be, but they are keeping in contact with provincial officials for more information.

“The Northwestern Health Unit is having regular, ongoing meetings at least twice a week with the Ministry of Health. There’s a fair bit of planning that’s happening provincially, and we’re still awaiting for clear direction and guidance from the Ministry on vaccine roll-out specific to our catchment area.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says General Rick Hillier and the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force are working with Health Canada and other provincial and territorial partners to ensure the vaccines are distributed quickly, so people can get immunized as soon as possible.

Health Canada approved the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on December 7 after rigorous clinical trials to determine its effectiveness and safety. Officials say they will continue to monitor the vaccine to ensure it continues to remain safe.

COVID-19 vaccines are expected to only be available for non-pregnant adults over the age of 18, based on early clinical trials of the vaccine. However, the groups authorized to receive vaccines could change and the program could be expanded.

As the province prepares for the arrival of vaccines, it remains critically important that all Ontarians continue following public health advice to protect our communities and most vulnerable populations, and to stop the spread of COVID-19.

This includes staying home if you have any symptoms, even mild; maintaining two metres of physical distancing from everyone else other than household members; avoiding social gatherings; wearing a face covering indoors and washing your hands thoroughly and regularly.

For more information:
Vaccine roll-out marks ‘beginning of the end’ for COVID-19 pandemic
How will the COVID-19 vaccine be rolled out?