It’s all hands-on deck, as Premier Ford likes to say, as Ontario prepared for what will be the biggest logistical challenge the province has faced sine WWII—getting COVID vaccine to 14.5 Million arms. To make it work the Ontario government is collaborating with leaders and experts in a wide variety of sectors, including pharmaceuticals, health care and logistics, to develop a COVID delivery plan for the province.
Today, Christine Elliott, Minister of Health, other ministers and retired General Rick Hillier toured McKesson, a pharmaceutical distribution company. McKesson’s warehouse in Brampton is the type of facility that could be instrumental in the storage and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Premier Ford said in a news release, “To support our planning, I’ve been on the phone with the Prime Minister, my fellow Premiers, the vaccine manufacturers, distributors, storage experts, and the health care sector to make sure we can roll out this vaccine when ready as quickly and efficiently as possible. I will continue to press the federal government for more information on the status of these vaccines.”
Ontario will be leveraging the expertise and resources from both the public and private sectors, who already play an important role in supporting the storage, distribution, transportation, administration, tracking and monitoring of pharmaceuticals, including vaccines, in the province. These partnerships will be essential in supporting the province’s large-scale logistical efforts for Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination program led by General Hillier. Distribution channels will depend on the details provided by the federal government about the requirements for specific vaccines, such as ultra-cold storage, timing of delivery, and priority populations for vaccination.
Ontario will be ready by December 31, 2020 to receive vaccines, with the first doses of vaccines expected to be made available in 2021. The province will receive initial logistical support from vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer. The task force, in conjunction with scientists and ethics professionals, will be advising the government’s prioritization of vaccine delivery sites and populations.
The planning and implementation of the immunization program will build on lessons learned from personal protective equipment logistics, including timely distribution of vaccines and ongoing communication and engagement with stakeholders to make sure all Ontarians are able to be immunized as doses become available. It will also benefit from the province’s previous experience and massive organization in the rapid opening of COVID-19 assessment centres.
At todays news conference Gen. Hillier gave Ontarians a little pep talk suggesting those who are complaining about the inconvenience of COVID lockdown restrictions, should remember the unbelievable hardships suffered by Canadian soldiers in both world wars.