Peel ramps up vaccination schedule as province touts milestone

As Peel Region pushes for an acceleration of vaccinations throughout key sites, the province announced Tuesday that it had completed the first round of vaccinations at LTC homes throughout the region and surrounding areas.

 Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday that Peel was one of four regions, along with Toronto, York and Windsor-Essex, to finish the first round of vaccinations on residents — as part of a push to target regions with the highest COVID-19 transmission rates in the province.

“We are making steady progress, but we will not rest until the residents and staff of every long-term care home and all Ontarians have had the opportunity to get a vaccine,” Ford said during a news conference.

“Only then will we be able to get our lives back and return to normal.” The news comes as public health officials in Peel push for a community mass vaccination plan, with a proposal outlining key metrics and guidelines being approved Wednesday. Peel’s vaccination plan is aimed at getting community clinics up and running as soon as possible, with two clinics (located at Region of Peel facilities at 7120 Hurontario Street and 10 Peel Centre Drive) targeted to open early next month.

Three additional locations, including Century Gardens Community Centre, Caledon East Community Complex and River Grove Community Centre are targeted to open this spring.

“(This) is a testament to the hard work and collaboration of our team with our many partners, all while continuing to support our broader pandemic response to help keep people safe,” the region said in a statement last week. As of Tuesday, 83,000 LTC residents, staff members and caregivers had been vaccinated with the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, though more work remains to stop community spread, said the province’s long-term care minister.

 “We must remember that our long-term care homes are still at risk from community spread… it’s important that all of us continue to stay home as much as possible and follow the public health measures so we can stay safe and save lives,” said Minister Merillee Fullerton.

The province has also run into snags securing additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine, as the federal government revealed on Jan. 15 that production at the drug maker’s European production facility had been delayed, and that shipments of the vaccine would be reduced through February.

More must be done to protect the province’s most vulnerable residents, representatives of the official opposition said last week. “People are doing everything they can to stay home and keep people safe — but Peel families, including all the essential workers that live here — won’t be able to solve this problem without more help,” said Brampton North NDP MPP Kevin Yarde. “(The Premier) must provide the region with the vaccines we need to meet the demands of our population, and he needs to provide paid sick days, onsite workplace testing, and more isolation centres.”

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Surjit Singh Flora

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