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What's next for Ottawa's local COVID vaccine rollout

A COVID-19 vaccine. Photo via Spencer Davis/Unsplash.

As the phase two vaccine rollout continues in our city, Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, is looking ahead to the next steps.

“By the end of April … we’ll have protected most people over 60,” Etches said on Wednesday. This fact allows Ottawa to now focus on other phase two groups under the province’s vaccination plan. “What we see, is we need to prioritize people who cannot work from home,” Etches said.

This will be done in groups, Etches continued. The province has published the details on these groups, as follows.

First group of workers unable to work remotely:

  • Elementary / secondary school staff and bus drivers that transport students
  • Workers responding to critical events (e.g., police, fire, compliance, funeral, special constables)
  • Child care workers
  • Licensed foster care workers
  • Food manufacturing workers
  • Agriculture and farm workers

Remaining workers unable to work remotely:

  • High-risk and critical retail workers (grocery and pharmacies)
  • Remaining manufacturing workers
  • Social workers (including youth justice)
  • Courts and justice system workers (including probation and parole)
  • Lower-risk retail workers (wholesalers, general goods)
  • Transportation, warehousing and distribution
  • Energy, telecom (data and voice), water and wastewater management
  • Financial services
  • Waste management
  • Mining, oil and gas workers

Notably, teachers and school bus drivers are in the first group, while transit workers are in the second group.

Etches said it is her aim to break up those groups in Ottawa for the purposes of staging, because “there are many, many, many people in those categories, and they are all important … there (are) different factors that go into trying to narrow it down, because we only have so many vaccines a week.”

Although the province has its framework for vaccines, the rollout looks different depending on locality. Kristy Kirkup, a Globe and Mail reporter who is immunocompromised, has been tweeting about her struggles to track down a vaccination spot in Ottawa.

Ottawa is currently vaccinating certain people with high-risk health conditions, but the list of eligible patients is specific and does not include immunocompromised. Kirkup later tweeted that she was able to book a vaccine appointment somewhere other than in Ottawa.

You can check your eligibility for vaccination on Ottawa Public Health’s website. As of Thursday, according to OPH, 284,597 vaccine doses have been administered so far in Ottawa, with 256,044 people having recieved at least one dose. There are 28,553 people who have recieved a second dose.


Devyn Barrie

Devyn Barrie is the publisher and editor of OttawaStart.com. He currently studies math and physics at the University of Ottawa, and holds a diploma in journalism from Algonquin College.