Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott announced that the first of six new “pillars “aimed at fighting off a second wave of COVID is a familiar one—get a conventional flu shot. “This is a massive, massive plan, it is jammed with items and if we laid it all down at once the message isn’t going to get out to the people,” he said in explaining his government’s decision to release the plan on a piecemeal basis. “If we just rolled it all out it wouldn’t be absorbed by the people out there.” Elliott explained that regular flu shots are critical to keep the province’s hospital beds free for those who may get COVID.
Both Ford and Elliott said the new COVID plan which has been in the works since this summer, is comprehensive and has multiple elements; thus they will roll out one essential aspect each day over the next week. The premier said additional supplies of high-dose flu shots will be available. These shots are aimed at seniors who require extra immunity. For the first time these shots can be administered at pharmacies in order to reduce the run on doctors’ offices.
In a news conference last week Ford had alluded to a delay in Health Canada approving a range of high speed tests that would allow people to know within hours or even immediately, in some cases, whether they were testing positive. He returned to that theme today:
“We all have a part to play and it starts with everyone getting their flu shot this year so please, please make sure you get yours. It has never been as important,” Ford said. The Ministry of Health says there were 5,719 flu-related hospitalizations in Ontario last year and 280 flu-related deaths.