Ontario will miss Feb. 5 goal of giving all long-term care residents 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Premier Doug Ford and other officials are set to hold a 1 p.m. ET news conference.

You’ll be able to watch it live in this story.

Delays in COVID-19 vaccine shipments mean that Ontario won’t be able to provide first doses to long-term residents and other highest-priority groups until five days later than previously expected, health officials said Tuesday. 

Members of the province’s vaccine distribution task force had initially hoped to administer first shots to all long-term care, high-risk retirement homes and First Nations elder care residents by Feb. 5.

At a morning briefing for media, members said reduced shipments from both Pfizer and Moderna have forced them to set a new goal date of Feb. 10. Whether that happens will depend largely on when a Moderna delivery expected later this week actually arrives, they added.

Uncertainty about COVID-19 vaccine shipments is expected to continue throughout much of February. Officials said that once the supply stabilizes, it will expand immunization efforts to once again give vaccines to staff and caregivers in the long-term care sector.

Meanwhile, Ontario officially reported 745 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, but says the sharp drop was due to data issues. 

The Ministry of Health said the total count of new COVID-19 cases was unreliable because the migration of Toronto Public Health (TPH) to the province’s data tracking system resulted in the unit reporting a negative number of new infections. 

Case counts in a number of other regions were also affected, the ministry said, though it did not identify the health units by name or detail the magnitude of the impacts on the overall total for today.

Most of Ontario’s 34 public health units switched over to the province’s centralized data system during the summer of 2020. Toronto, however, had until now relied on its own internal program to track and trace COVID-19 infections.

The ministry said the migration of TPH could result in “fluctuations in case numbers” for the next few days.

Ontario’s network of labs completed fewer than 30,000 tests for the virus, the province said in its daily COVID-19 update. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The unreliability of the province’s official number today means it would be imprudent to draw conclusions about wider COVID-19 trends in Ontario at this point.

The province reported the deaths of 14 more people with the illness, pushing the toll to 6,238. 

So far, Ontario has seen 109 cases of the COVID-19 variant first discovered in the U.K. variant and one of the variant that emerged in South Africa.

Another 2,715 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since the last daily update. A total of 344,615 doses have been administered in Ontario so far.

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