Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination plan

Safe and effective vaccines will help protect us against covid 19. Learn about them and when they will be available in Ontario for you and your family.

This page will be updated regularly. Last updated April 9, 2021.

Vaccination in hot spots

Each public health unit is developing a vaccine plan tailored to their own community’s needs. If you are aged 18-49 and live in a designated hot spot, find your public health unit and check their website for details about vaccination in your area. Other eligible groups can use Ontario’s vaccine booking system to find out how to schedule an appointment.

When you can get the vaccine

Ontario has a three-phase plan that prioritizes vaccines for those at greatest risk of severe illness and those who care for them. As vaccine supply is delivered across the province, public health units may have different vaccine administration rates based on local context.

Phase 1 High-risk populations
(approximately 1.8 million people)

December 2020 – March 2021
  • Congregate living for seniors
  • Health care workers
  • Adults in First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations
  • Adult chronic home care recipients
  • Adults ages 80 and older

Phase 2
Mass deliveries of vaccines
(approximately 9 million people)

April 2021 – June 2021
  • Adults aged 60 to 79, in 5-year increments
  • High-risk congregate settings (such as shelters, community living)
  • Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers
  • Those who cannot work from home
  • At-risk populations

Phase 3
Steady state

July 2021 onwards
  • Adults 59 years and younger

If there is limited supply, we will vaccinate people in the order in which they are listed. Learn how the priorities are determined.

All timelines are subject to change depending on vaccine supply.

Check with your public health unit

Each public health unit is developing a vaccine plan tailored to their own community’s needs. Local plans will align with Ontario’s vaccine distribution plan and ethical framework. Find your public health unit and check their website for details about vaccination in your area.

Find your public health unit
A person getting a vaccine shot from a healthcare worker with both wearing surgical masks

Our three-phased vaccination plan

  • Phase 1: high-risk populations

    Timing: December 2020 to March 2021

    Who is eligible

    • Staff, essential caregivers and any residents that have not yet received a first dose in:
      • long-term care homes
      • high-risk retirement homes
      • First Nations elder care homes
    • Alternative level of care patients in hospitals who have a confirmed admission to a long-term care home, retirement home or other congregate care home for seniors
    • Health care workers identified as highest priority, followed by very high priority, in the Ministry of Health’s guidance on Health Care Worker Prioritization (PDF)
    • Indigenous adults in northern remote and higher risk communities (on-reserve and urban)
    • Adults ages 80 and older
    • Staff, residents and caregivers in retirement homes and other congregate care settings for seniors (for example, assisted living)
    • Health care workers identified as the high priority level in the Ministry of Health’s guidance on Health Care Worker Prioritization (PDF)
    • Indigenous adults
    • Adult recipients of chronic home care
  • Phase 2: mass deliveries of vaccines

    Timing: April to June 2021, depending on vaccine supply

    Who is eligible

    Older adults
    • Adults aged 60 to 79, starting with those 75 to 79 and decreasing in five-year increments
    • Those turning 55 or older in 2021 are eligible for vaccination at participating pharmacies and primary care settings

    Public health units determine age-based eligibility for their own community’s needs. This means eligible age groups may differ between regions.

    Adults living in covid 19 hot spot communities
    Hot spot vaccinations

    If you are between 18-49 years and live in a designated hot spot, please wait for further communication from your public health unit about when and how you may receive your vaccine. At this time, they are available for targeted high-risk settings only.

    Find your public health unit and check their website for details about vaccination in your area.

    • Adults ages 50 and older (starting with older individuals and decreasing in age) living in hot spot communities where provincial and local data demonstrate historic and ongoing high rates of covid 19, death and severe illness due to covid 19
    • People ages 18 or over in targeted high-risk settings as supply allows (via mobile clinics and pop-up centres), including:
      • high-risk congregate settings
      • community centres
      • residential buildings
      • faith-based locations
      • locations occupied by large employers
    • Select education staff, starting with those who provide direct support to students with complex special education needs and educators in hot spot postal codes in Toronto and Peel
    • Black and other racialized communities
    Hot spot communities

    Hot spot communities include postal codes starting with:

    • Durham Region Health Department — L1S, L1T, L1V, L1X, L1Z
    • Halton Region Public Health — L9E
    • City of Hamilton Public Health Services — L8W, L9C
    • Niagara Region Public Health — L2G
    • Ottawa Public Health — K1T, K1V, K2V
    • Peel Public Health — L4T, L4W, L4X, L4Z, L5A, L5B, L5R, L5C, L5K, L5L, L5M, L5N, L5V, L5W, L6P, L6R, L6S, L6T, L7C, L6V, L6W, L6X, L6Y, L6Z, L7A
    • Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit — L3Z
    • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services — N2C
    • Wellington-Dufferin Guelph Public Health — N1K
    • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit — N8X, N8Y, N9A, N9B, N9C, N8H, N9Y
    • York Region Public Health — L0J, L4B, L4E, L4H, L4J, L4K, L4L, L6A, L3S, L3T, L6B, L6C, L6E
    • Toronto Public Health — M1B, M1C, M1E, M1G, M1H, M1J, M1K, M1M, M1P, M1R, M1X, M1L, M4H, M1S, M1T, M1V, M1W, M2J, M2M, M2R, M3A, M3C, M3H, M4A, M3J, M3K, M3L, M3M, M3N, M6B, M6L, M6M, M9L, M9M, M9N, M9P, M4X, M5A, M5B, M5N, M6A, M5V, M6E, M6H, M6K, M6N, M8V, M9A, M9B, M9C, M9R, M9V, M9W
    • Southwestern Public Health — N5H
    People who live and work in high-risk congregate settings
    • Supportive housing
    • Developmental services or intervenor and supported independent living
    • Emergency shelters for people experiencing homelessness
    • People experiencing homelessness not in shelters
    • Mental health and addictions congregate settings (for example, supportive housing, hospital psychiatric patients)
    • Homes for special care
    • Employer-provided living accommodations for temporary foreign agricultural workers
    • Adult correctional facilities
    • Violence against women (VAW) shelters and anti-human trafficking (AHT) residents
    • Children’s residential facilities
    • Youth justice facilities
    • Indigenous healing and wellness facilities
    • Bail beds and Indigenous bail beds
    • Provincial and demonstration schools
    Caregivers in select congregate care settings
    • Developmental services
    • Mental health and addictions congregate settings
    • Homes for special care
    • Children’s residential facilities
    • Indigenous healing and wellness facilities
    Individuals with health conditions and their caregivers
    Highest risk
    • Organ transplant recipients
    • Hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients
    • People with neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised (for example, motor neuron disease, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis)
    • Haematological malignancy diagnosed within the last year
    • Kidney disease with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) under 30
    • One essential caregiver for above individuals

    Vaccination for individuals in this group will take place:

    • mainly at hospital clinics
    • where the individuals receive their regular treatment, if possible

    If you are in this group, your health care provider (for example, your family doctor or specialist) will contact you to book an appointment, when vaccine supply is available.

    High risk
    • Obesity (BMI over 40)
    • Other treatments causing immunosuppression (for example, chemotherapy, immunity-weakening medications)
    • Intellectual or developmental disabilities (for example, Down Syndrome)
    • One essential caregiver for those individuals who require regular and sustained assistance with personal care and/or activities of daily living

    Vaccination for individuals in this group will take place:

    • mobile teams
    • primary care settings (for example, doctors’ offices)

    If you are in this group, your health care provider (for example, your family doctor or specialist) will contact you to book an appointment, when vaccine supply is available.

    At risk
    • Immune deficiencies and autoimmune disorders
    • Stroke and cerebrovascular disease
    • Dementia
    • Diabetes
    • Liver disease
    • All other cancers
    • Respiratory diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, pleurisy
    • Spleen problems, such as asplenia
    • Heart disease
    • Hypertension with end organ damage
    • Diagnosed mental disorder
    • Substance use disorders
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Thalassemia
    • Pregnancy
    • Immunocompromising health conditions
    • Other disabilities requiring direct support care in the community

    Vaccination for individuals in this group will take place:

    • mass immunization clinics (primarily for patients falling within the age bands)
    • hospital clinics
    • mobile teams
    • primary care settings

    If you are in this group, your health care provider (for example, your family doctor or specialist) will contact you to book an appointment when supply is available, or you can book online using the province’s online booking system when vaccines are available to your age group.

    This list is not exhaustive – health care practitioners will use their best medical judgement to vaccinate patients with health conditions not listed (such as rare diseases) that may put them at similar or greater risk to the listed conditions.

    Essential frontline workers who cannot work from home
    First group
    • Elementary and secondary school workers (including educators, custodial, school bus drivers, administrative staff)
    • Workers responding to critical events (including police, fire, special constables, children’s aid society workers, emergency management, critical infrastructure restoration workers)
    • Enforcement, inspection and compliance roles (including by-law enforcement, building inspectors, food inspectors, animal welfare inspectors, border inspection officers, labour inspectors, WSIB field workers)
    • Individuals working in childcare (including all licensees, employees and students on educational placements who interact directly with children in licensed childcare centres and in authorized recreation and skill building programs, licensed home child care and in-home service providers, employees of home child care agencies)
    • Foster care agenda workers (including customary care providers)
    • Food manufacturing and distribution workers
    • Agriculture and farm workers
    • Funeral, crematorium and cemetery workers
    Second group
    • Essential and critical retail workers (including grocery, foodbank, pharmacy, ServiceOntario, ServiceCanada, Passport Canada, wholesalers and general goods, restaurant, LCBO workers)
    • Workers in manufacturing industries directly involved in supporting the covid 19 response, construction (including infrastructure) and other essential businesses and services where facilities are at heightened risk for covid 19 outbreaks and spread
    • Social workers and social services staff who provide in-person client services (including youth justice workers, Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program case workers)
    • Courts and justice system workers (including probation and parole workers)
    • Transportation, warehousing and distribution workers (including public transit workers, truck drivers supporting essential services, marine and rail cargo and maintenance, highway maintenance)
    • Electricity (including system operations, generation, transmission, distribution and storage workers)
    • Communications infrastructure workers (including cellular, satellite, landline, internet, public safety radio)
    • Water and wastewater management workers
    • Financial services workers (bank branch staff)
    • Veterinarians and veterinary teams
    • Waste management workers
    • Oil and petroleum workers (including petroleum refineries, crude oil and petroleum storage, transmission and distribution, retail sale of fuel)
    • Natural gas and propane gas workers (including compression, storage, transmission and distribution of natural gas and propane)
    • Mine workers (including those needed to ensure the continued operation of active mines)
    • Uranium processing workers (those working in the refining and conversion of uranium and fabrication of fuel for nuclear power plants)
  • Phase 3: steady state

    Timing: July 2021 and beyond

    Who will be vaccinated

    • Remaining Ontarians ages 16 and older who wish to be vaccinated

How we are prioritizing vaccinations

Ontario’s plan prioritizes vaccines for those at greatest risk of severe illness and those who care for them.

Our strategy to vaccinate the population is based on:

  • age
  • risk due to:
    • health conditions
    • congregate settings
    • hot spots (areas with higher rates of death, hospitalization and transmission)
    • not being able to work from home

This is because evidence shows that vaccinating primarily based on age, with some adjustment for high risk groups, will prevent more:

  • deaths
  • hospitalizations
  • ICU admissions
  • cases of covid 19

To make sure Ontario’s vaccine program is equitable and fair, decisions about priority are guided by:

Collecting sociodemographic data

As part of our commitment to building safe and healthy communities, Ontario is collecting sociodemographic data on a voluntary basis from individuals who get the covid 19 vaccine. We are collecting this data to:

  • get a more complete picture of who is being vaccinated across the province
  • make sure vaccines are provided in a way that is equitable
  • show us where we need to provide more information to address any gaps
  • help ensure that we are reaching everyone who wants to be vaccinated

When you get the vaccine, you may be asked to share information about your:

  • race
  • ethnicity
  • language
  • income
  • household size

Providing this information will be completely voluntary, and safeguards will be in place to protect your privacy.

You will be able to receive the vaccine whether you provide the information or not.

If you change your mind about allowing your information to be used, you can contact the Ministry of Health at heia@ontario.ca. If you withdraw your consent, we will stop using your sociodemographic data in the future.

This email is only for questions about sociodemographic data. If you have questions about covid 19 vaccines, read more online or call 1-888-999-6488.

Why get vaccinated

Safe and reliable vaccines can help protect you and your family from covid 19. They are an important tool to help stop the spread of the virus, build immunity in Ontario and allow us to safely resume normal life.

When a large percentage of the population becomes immune to covid 19, the spread of the virus will slow down or stop.

The vaccines approved for use in Canada:

  • will help prevent death and serious illness due to covid 19
  • are anticipated to be effective against the original strain of the virus and the identified variants

Until vaccines are widely available and enough people have been fully vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus, we all must:

covid 19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force

The covid 19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force is advising Ontario as it plans the immunization program and delivers vaccines.

The task force is advising and providing recommendations on:

  • how to deliver, store and distribute vaccines
  • support for partners in the health care system to deliver vaccinations in phases, beginning with vulnerable populations
  • clinical guidance to administer the vaccine and track vaccine uptake
  • reporting data and technology to provide timely, relevant and accurate information to health care providers, decision-makers and the public
  • public education and community outreach efforts to encourage people to get the vaccine

Members

  • Dr. Homer Tien, trauma surgeon and President and CEO of Ornge Air Ambulance (chair)
  • Mario Di Tommaso, Deputy Solicitor General, Community Safety, Commissioner of Emergency Management (vice-chair)
  • Helen Angus, Deputy Minister of Health (vice-chair)
  • Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald of Taykwa Tagamou Nation
  • Dr. Isaac Bogoch, infectious diseases consultant and internist, Toronto General Hospital
  • Dr. Dirk Huyer, Ontario’s Chief Coroner and Coordinator of Provincial Outbreak Response
  • Angela Mondou, President and CEO, Technation
  • Mark Saunders, former Toronto Police Chief
  • Dr. Maxwell Smith, bioethicist and assistant professor, Western University
  • Dr. Regis Vaillancourt, Director of Pharmacy, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
  • Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health, Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington

Ex-officio members

  • Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Public Health
  • Matt Anderson, President and CEO, Ontario Health
  • Shawn Batise, Deputy Minister, Indigenous Affairs Ontario
  • Lynn Betzner, Deputy Minister, Intergovernmental Affairs & Associate Secretary of the Cabinet
  • Laurie LeBlanc, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Transportation
  • Giles Gherson, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
  • Karen Hughes, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Government and Consumer Affairs
  • Richard Steele, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Long-Term Care
  • Denise Cole, Deputy Minister for Seniors and Accessibility

Related