The rest of the plan will be unveiled in the next few days
Flu shots are the first pillar of Ontario’s fall preparedness plan to help hospitals maintain capacity during the second wave of the pandemic, Premier Doug Ford announced on Tuesday.
The flu shots will reduce visits to emergency rooms and doctors’ offices during the second wave of the pandemic, said Ford. The Ontario government announced in a press release that it will be investing $70 million to deliver 5.1 million doses of the flu vaccine for the entire province. Ford said that anyone who wants a flu shot this year can get one, and urged everyone to get one if they can.
“We know that a second wave is coming,” Ford said. “We know that it will be more complicated than the first wave. We know it will be more challenging on the system. We all have a part to play, and it starts with everyone getting their flu shot this year.”
The province is looking to roll out the flu shot campaign as soon as possible. Minister of Health Christine Elliott said that the government is expecting the first shipments of the vaccine next week. Elliott said that staff and residents in long-term care homes, hospitals, retirement homes and other congregate housing arrangements will be prioritized for the flu shot. The flu shots will be available to the public about a week later, Elliott said.
Tuesday’s announcement outlines one of six pillars in the province’s comprehensive plan to prepare the health-care system for a second wave of COVID-19. Details of the plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe, will be unveiled one-by-one over the next few days, according to a press release by the premier’s office.
“If we lay it all down at once, the message isn’t going to get out to the people,” Ford said. “The best plan for all of us is to roll out one and another and another. People can’t comprehend (the plan) if we’re just ramming it down on the table and just rolling it all out, it’s not going to be absorbed by the people out there.”
Along with implementing a large flu vaccine campaign, the other five focus areas are maintaining strong public health measures, quickly identifying COVID-19 outbreaks, accelerating efforts to reduce health service backlogs, preparing for surges in COVID-19 cases and recruiting health-care workers.
The province’s next announcement hasn’t yet been formally set, beyond taking place in the next few days.