Ontario plans to provide 1st COVID-19 vaccine shot in all nursing homes by Feb. 15

TORONTO — Ontario plans to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in all nursing homes and high-risk retirement homes by Feb. 15.

The province says residents, workers and essential caregivers at those facilities will get the first dose of the vaccine by that date.

The plan builds on an earlier pledge to give the COVID-19 vaccine to long-term care facilities in hot spots by Jan. 21.

Read more: Ontario outlines when people over the age 80 can be vaccinated for COVID-19

The government says it’s now able to move the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine safely to long-term care facilities, which has allowed it to speed up immunizations in nursing homes.

Long-term care homes have been hit hard during the pandemic, with 3,063 residents dying of COVID-19 since March.

The province said it had administered more than 144,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Wednesday.

It also says about 8,000 people have now received the two doses of the vaccine required for full immunization.

Read more: Ontario attempts to clarify what is essential under COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home order

The province is currently focusing on vaccinating health-care workers and those in long-term care facilities but says people over the age of 80 will be the first priority group to receive the shot when Ontario enters the second phase of its vaccine rollout in April.

Ontario reported 2,961 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 74 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 738 new cases in Toronto, 536 in Peel Region, and 245 in Windsor-Essex County.

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