Mobile COVID-19 vaccine units to open in Ontario

Mobile units designed to strengthen capacity to reach areas where the need is greatest

Mobile COVID-19 vaccine units to open in Ontario
More than 5.5 million Ontarians have been vaccinated.

Ontario is further expanding its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan with the launch of mobile vaccine units for small to medium-sized businesses in hot spot communities.

“The new mobile units for at-risk businesses are another step in our efforts to get more people in priority areas vaccinated as conveniently and as quickly as possible,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “These mobile units are designed to be rapidly deployed to a diversity of small to medium-sized workplaces and will help strengthen our capacity to reach areas where the need is greatest.”

Mobile units will begin offering vaccinations in Toronto, York and Peel at select businesses that have employees who cannot work from home and have a history or risk of outbreaks. Each public health unit will determine the small to medium-sized businesses where mobile units will be deployed.

Initially, the government plans to roll out up to five mobile units starting May 7. This may be expanded to up to 15 units once the program is fully established. Each mobile unit will be equipped with the necessary staff, vaccines and resources to immunize all employees at the selected workplaces, according to the government.

Last month, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) called on the Ontario government to prioritize the vaccination of essential workers so that the sector can continue to keep workplaces open and safe for workers.

Employer-led vaccination

Meanwhile, employer-led workplace vaccination clinics organized by large companies such as Maple Lodge Farms, Maple Leaf Foods and Amazon Canada in Peel Region have been completed or are underway, according to the government.

Loblaw Companies, Walmart Canada, HelloFresh, Magna, Air Canada and Purolator Inc., in cooperation with Peel Public Health, are also setting up workplace vaccination clinics this month for workers who cannot work from home.

A workplace vaccination clinic will also be operationalized at the Ontario Food Terminal starting May 10.

These announcements came as the province is expecting to receive increased vaccine deliveries from the federal government starting this week.

“With a stable and reliable supply of vaccines expected this month, our government is further accelerating our vaccine rollout with a focus on individuals and settings most at risk,” said Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health. “Vaccines remain our best defence against COVID-19, and I strongly encourage all Ontarians to schedule their appointment as soon as it’s their turn to help protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities.”

Canadian Occupation Safety talked with Loretta Bouwmeester, partner, Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP, about the things employers should consider when leading vaccination programs in the workplace.

Expanding vaccination program

More than 5.5 million Ontarians have been vaccinated, and the province is on track to have administered first doses to 65 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over by the end of May, according to the government.

The province is also expanding the use of the Moderna vaccine to the pharmacy channel this week. Up to 60 pharmacies will participate, with locations in each of Durham, Hamilton, Ottawa, Windsor-Essex and York public health regions’ hot spot areas for individuals aged 18 and over.

Further expansion of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in the pharmacy channel will continue through May. Participating pharmacies will be identified on the website as they begin offering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and will continue to use their own booking system for appointments.

Also, as of May 6, the province will expand booking eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine appointments to individuals aged 50 and over, individuals with high-risk health conditions and Group One of the people who cannot work from home. Appointments can be booked through the provincial booking system and booking line or directly through public health units that use their own booking system.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals will also be able to book through the same process in addition to the other channels previously available to book their appointment.

Eligible populations who have only been able to book via the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line will now also be able to book online, including individuals with the highest risk health conditions, child care workers in licensed child care settings and education workers who provide direct support to students with special education needs.

Canadian Occupational Safety also previously noted three things to know about Canada’s vaccine rollout.