Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table is encouraging a shift in the province’s vaccine strategy, saying allocating shots based on transmission rate rather than age group would considerably reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.
The group of scientific experts and health system leaders says focusing on hot spot neighbourhoods where COVID-19 infection rates are highest and residents are less likely to be able to work from home would reduce hospitalizations by 14 per cent and deaths by 11 per cent.
The table says the current approach, which has largely focused on vaccinating people based on age, health condition or status as a resident of a congregate care setting, has left some of those most at risk least likely to receive a shot.
The table’s analysis shows residents of neighbourhoods with the lowest risk of COVID-19 are 1.5 times more likely to have received at least one shot.
To quell the virus, the table says the province could move to a hot spot-accelerated vaccination strategy, where half of Ontario’s shots are allocated to 74 neighbourhoods with the highest COVID-19 incidence levels.
It says the remaining half could be equally distributed across the province, but noted there could be additional benefits if Ontario further prioritized workers in warehouses, factories and other facilities with large numbers of outbreaks.