Everything You Need To Know About Who Gets The Vaccine First In Canada

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Everything You Need To Know About Who Gets The Vaccine First In Canada

Ontario's minister of health made it clear today how many vaccines are coming, but was short on details on who'd be getting them first.

And though she only provided a timeline and numbers for Ontario, things are likely to go similarly across the country.

Christine Elliott said that prioritizing groups for vaccines is nothing new, and that the've been doing it with the flu vaccine for ages, adding, "we will do the same with respect to the COVID vaccine."

Neither she nor the Ontario Ministry of Health has further details yet, but the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) does. They've already issued their recommendations, and it's likely Ontario, as well as the rest of the provinces and territories, will be following them.

Here are answers to some of the most popular questions we received from readers.

Editor's Choice: Doug Ford Says Even More Restrictions Could Be Coming To Toronto, Peel & York

How Is It Determined Who Gets It First?

The NACI has identified four "key populations" that should be first to get the vaccine. They are:

Those at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19

Generally, this means older people (60 and over), and those who have conditions that put them at higher risk of having a rough go with COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), that list includes those with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer.

Those most likely to transmit COVID-19 to those at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 and workers essential to maintaining the COVID-19 response

This covers not only frontline care workers like nurses, doctors, and hospital technicians and support staff, but also anyone who takes care of anyone in the above category or needs to live in the same household with them, either because they're family members, or because it's their job, like nannies, in-home care workers, and those who work in long-term care facilities.

Those whose living or working conditions put them at elevated risk of infection and where infection could have disproportionate consequences, including Indigenous communities

This includes people who live and work in prisons and shelters, as well as meat-packing plants and remote and under-served Indigenous communities.

Those contributing to the maintenance of other essential services for the functioning of society

This is the tricky one. There are enough vaccines for roughly 15% of the Ontario population in the first round, and according to NACI, about 18% of Canadians identify as essential workers. NACI helpfully lists 10 sectors considered essential which, in addition to health, includes IT, water and food, transportation, finance (?!), and — handily — government.

Will The Vaccine Be Mandatory?

No. Vaccines are never legally mandatory, though some workplaces may end up making it a condition of continued employment.

If Health-Care Workers Are A Priority, Does That Mean Their Families Are, Too?

According to NACI's guidelines, no, presumably because an infected family member wouldn't be able to pass the coronavirus along to a vaccinated health-care worker.

How Is The Vaccine Going To Be Distributed?

Neither NACI nor the Ontario government has gone into this yet, but thankfully, Justin Trudeau has. On Wednesday, he said that multiple government agencies, private contractors, and even possibly the armed forces may be brought in to get these finicky vaccines (which must be stored at very low temperatures) where they need to go.

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