Toronto

Reallocating vaccines to Ontario hotspots could help reduce case counts, deaths, report says

Ontario's COVID-19 advisory table says reallocating vaccines to COVID-19 hotspots will help reduce case counts, hospitalizations and deaths. 

Hotspot-accelerated strategy would see more vaccinations for essential workers

A 'hotspot-accelerated strategy' recommended by Ontario's science advisory table would see the reallocation of 50 per cent of available vaccines to the top 74 hot spots in the province. (Grant Linton/CBC)

Ontario's COVID-19 advisory table says reallocating vaccines to COVID-19 hotspots will help reduce case counts, hospitalizations and deaths. 

The move would see half of all available vaccines relocated to Ontario's top 74 hot spots, with the other half equally distributed across the province, the group said in a report released Friday.

Everyone aged 16 and older in those hot spots would be vaccinated, the group said. 

According to the science table, early analysis of the province's vaccine rollout reveals inequities in distribution, with residents of higher risk neighbourhoods — with the largest proportion of essential workers — less likely to get vaccinated.

Accelerating the vaccination of essential workers, their families and other residents living in hotspots is projected to prevent considerably more infections in people aged 16 to 59 years. 

Although this strategy would see slower vaccination of people aged 60 years and older in non-hotspots, the group says it would prevent more infections in that age group. 

"Accelerating the vaccination of residents and essential workers in COVID-19 hotspots will substantially reduce the overall incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infections, COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths among both younger and older Ontarians," the report reads. 

On April 13, Ontario shifted its vaccination strategy to include those aged 18 and older in the highest risk hotspots identified in Toronto and Peel Region, and later vaccinating the remainder of 114 defined hotspots across the province. 

This plan included the distribution of 25 per cent of vaccines to the 114 hotspots and the remaining 75 per cent to the rest of the province, according to the report. This means that 47.5 per cent of Ontario's vaccine supply would be allocated to the 30 per cent of the population living in 114 hotspots.

"Realizing the potential impact of the hotspot-accelerated vaccination strategy will require meaningful community engagement," the group noted.

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