COVID-19 vaccine distribution was the priority for both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford in today’s media briefings. Both are relying on military expertise to deliver vaccines once they are approved.
But even as they talked about vaccines as the “light at the end of the tunnel,” Ontario was moving five regions into tighter restrictions in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
National Operations Centre
Prime Minister Trudeau announced a National Operations Centre for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines through the Public Health Agency of Canada, with the support of the Canadian Armed Forces.
The centre will be led by former NATO commander Dany Fortin, Chief of Staff of Canadian Joint Operations Command, and will be responsible for planning, logistical support, storage, data-sharing and coordination with Indigenous and rural communities.
“When a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready,” Trudeau vowed, noting this will be “the biggest immunization in the history of the country.”
Shortly after the Prime Minister’s announcement, federal public health officials provided an update on the national COVID-19 forecast for the coming weeks. Given the recent case trend across the country, Chief Public Officer of Health Dr. Theresa Tam estimates that Canada could see up to 10,000 new COVID-19 cases daily by mid-December.
Premier Ford was joined at his briefing by retired General Rick Hillier, the former head of the Canadian Armed forces who was appointed by Ford to chair the province’s COVID-19 distribution task force.
Citing December 31 as the date to be ready, Hillier said “a huge amount of work” has already been done as the province builds a “coherent” approach tying together four key pillars of the vaccine rollout: distribution and logistics, medical administration, public education and tracking.
Both Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott cited the arrival of the vaccine as the big question mark and said they are pressing the federal government for clarity on both the volume and timing of vaccines Ontario will be receiving.
“The clock is ticking. We can’t be last in line,” Ford intoned.
Five Regions Move to Tighter Restrictions
As of 12:01 a.m. on Monday, five public health regions in Ontario will move to new levels with stronger public health measures:
Red – Control
Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
Orange – Restrict
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Yellow – Protect
Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
Lambton Public Health
Northwestern Health Unit