by Dr. Nell Thomas

Ontario has announced the anticipated Phase 2 vaccine rollout from April to July, 2021. This phase included mass vaccination to approximately nine million residents, targeting: High-risk congregate (shared living) settings (such as shelters, community living); individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers; those who cannot work from home and at-risk populations.

Vaccines will be provided through mass vaccination clinics, pharmacies, primary care doctors’ offices, site-specific clinics, mobile sites and public health units.

To find out if you meet the criteria, you can revie the Ontario vaccine website for a more detailed list of who’s eligible. I offer the following description of candidates here:

HIGHEST RISK: organ transplant recipients, hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients (bone marrow or blood cell, used for leukemia and lymphoma patients), people with neurological diseases (stroke, MS, traumatic brain injuries, cerebral palsy) that affect breathing, cancers of the blood system diagnosed within the past year, kidney disease.

HIGH RISK: obesity (body mass index greater than 40), treatments that suppress immune systems such as chemotherapy or some rheumatological or psoriasis medications, intellectual or developmental disabilities (Down Syndrome).

AT RISK: immune deficiencies (diseases affecting bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, thymus), stroke, dementia, diabetes, liver disease, cancers, respiratory/lung diseases, spleen diseases, heart disease, high blood pressure, mental health disorders, substance use and addictions anemias, pregnancy, disabilities and immunocompromised conditions requiring direct support.

PRIMARY/ESSENTIAL CAREGIVERS FOR: organ transplant recipients, hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients, people with neurological diseases with damage to lung function, blood cancers diagnosed within the last year, kidney disease with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) under 30. 

PEOPLE WHO WORK AND LIVE IN GROUP SETTINGS: supportive housing, developmental services or supported independent living, emergency homeless shelters, homeless populations not in shelters, mental health and addictions group settings, homes for special care, violence against women shelters and anti-human trafficking residents, children’s residential facilities, youth justice facilities, indigenous healing and wellness facilities, provincial and demonstration schools, farm workers who live in group settings, including temporary foreign workers, bail beds and Indigenous bail beds, adult correctional facilities.

CAREGIVERS IN THE FOLLOWING SETTINGS:developmental services, mental health and addictions group settings, homes for special care, children’s residential facilities, indigenous healing and wellness facilities. 

ESSENTIAL FRONTLINE WORKERS WHO CANNOT WORK FROM HOME: elementary and secondary school staff, police, fire, compliance, funeral, special constables and other workers responding to critical events, childcare and licenced foster care workers, food manufacturing workers, agriculture and farm workers, high-risk and critical retail workers in grocery stores and pharmacies, remaining manufacturing labourers, social workers, including youth justice, courts and justice system workers, including probation and parole, lower-risk retail workers (wholesalers, general goods), transportation, warehousing and distribution, energy (propane, hydro), telecom (data and voice), water and wastewater management, financial services, waste management, mining, oil and gas workers.

COMMUNITIES AT GREATEST RISK: Black and other racialized populations, Hot spots with historic and ongoing high rates of death, hospitalization and transmission.

What you need to know:

Provincial booking system: Ontario.ca/bookvaccine; phone 1-888-999-6488

COVID-19 vaccination clinics – Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (hkpr.on.ca)

Follow the prompts to see if you are eligible and where you can receive your vaccine.

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