5 things to know about Ottawa's vaccination plan

Who goes first? When will it be my turn? Where do I go? Here are some answers.

Who goes first, when your turn might arrive and how you'll know where to go

Elderly people in long-term care and retirement homes, like Bill Silver, have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Now, the plan to vaccinate seniors living in the community is being rolled out — slowly. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

At the same time that retired general Rick Hillier was announcing the provincial online booking system for COVID-19 vaccine appointments would go live on March 15, Ottawa city council was hearing that local officials wouldn't be waiting for the Queen's Park system — it would start public vaccinations on March 5.

But, warned city officials, the early doses for the elderly living in the community would be limited and targeted to seven communities. Oh, and the details of how to book an appointment or even where to go won't be available until Monday.

That some folks are confused is no wonder. It's impossible to answer with certainty the question on most people's minds — "When will it be my turn?" — because there are too many unknowns surrounding the vaccine supply.

Here are some of the answers we do know.

I'm over 80. When can I get a vaccine?

It depends on where you live.

Ottawa has been administering doses since Dec.15 to the Phase 1 priority group, which was expanded earlier this month to include those 80 and older.

Many of the city's elderly who live in care homes have received at least one dose, but those living in the broader community didn't have access to the vaccine.

That will change next week for elderly residents and all adults receiving chronic home care in seven of Ottawa's high-risk communities with the most elevated levels of COVID-19: Ledbury, Herongate, Heatherington, Emerald Woods, Sawmill Creek, Ridgemont and Riverview. The details of where the pop-up clinic will take place — or how many locations there will be — and how to book an appointment will be released on Monday.

The following week, the city will identify other high-risk neighbourhoods where older adults can get a vaccine. The city will use its own booking system — similar to the one used for flu clinics a few months back — until the provincial system is up and running.

It won't be until later in March that the general over-80 crowd will be able to get a vaccine.

What exactly is happening on March 15?

That's when the province plans to launch its online portal and service desk for booking a vaccine appointment, beginning with those 80 and older. It's still unclear exactly how it will work or what it will look like, but presumably it will allow users to choose the location for their vaccination (more on that in a moment).

It should be the week that doses are available for people 80 and older who are living in the community. Hillier did say those would be available on the third week in March, which begins on Mar. 15. 

The city has a plan for vaccinating residents that can be scaled up quickly if the supply warrants. (Jean Delise/CBC)

If I'm younger than 80, when do I get a vaccine?

Based on the predicted supply as it currently stands, provincial officials estimate that Phase 2 of the vaccination plan will begin in April.

That second phase will include people in congregate living situations, like homeless shelters, those with high-risk chronic conditions and those in essential workplaces like schools and the "food processing industry" (although the province is still working on the precise definitions of who would qualify and the order).

As well, seniors will be able to book their vaccinations in phases, from oldest to youngest. So those 75 and older will be able to book first — around April 15 — and two weeks later those 70 and older would be allowed to book, and so on.

Those who are 60 should be able to get a shot in July.

The general public is probably not going to be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine until at least August.

How will I know it's my turn?

Anthony Di Monte, who's managing the city's vaccination task force, told council on Wednesday that there's a large advertising campaign planned to let people know when and how to book.

Spokespeople like Di Monte and Dr. Vera Etches, the medical officer of health, will be out giving interviews, and councillors will also use their networks to help out. Operators at 311 should be able to provide callers with information, and the city will also partner with stakeholders to get the word out.

(City of Ottawa)

Where will I go to get a shot?

Most people will likely go to one of seven community vaccine clinics across the city that are ready to go at a moment's notice. Only a few of these will open in late March to serve the elderly, and the remaining ones will come as the supply of the vaccine increases.

The Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital has a clinic, and the Queensway-Carleton Hospital just announced it will also operate one. In addition, mobile clinics will service rural areas. 

When all these clinics are operational, workers can inoculate almost 11,000 people a day. If the vaccine supply warrants, the number of doses administered can be increased substantially by offering the vaccine through physicians' offices, pharmacies and by running the community clinics on a 24-hour basis.

(City of Ottawa)

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