Toronto officials stress vaccination as Ontario prepares reopening


Mayor Tory urges those eligible to book booster shots

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With Ontario now marking Jan. 31 as the day some of the latest COVID-19 restrictions will be loosened, Toronto Mayor John Tory is urging those who have yet to get their third dose to book an appointment as soon as they can.

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“First and foremost, this is a provincial decision,” Mayor Tory said of the plan outlined by the Ford government.

“(We) would like to see us open as soon as we can; as many things as we can, but to do it safely,” the mayor added. “From a mental health, from a business, from a public health point of view, we would all like to see us able to get back to normal as soon as we can. But to do that safely.”

Toronto‘s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen De Villa, said the push to increase Toronto’s vaccination rate is their main focus.

City officials say they continue to put particular attention on vaccinating children ages five to 11, booking booster shots for those over 50, and encouraging those in areas with low vaccination rates to get their shots.

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De Villa added that, like many people, “we are all eager to see the resumption of activity, including in-person learning and all the activities that enhance quality of life.”

She described the provincial plan as “a gradual and cautious approach.”

Public Health continues to monitor data for clues about the progression of the Omicron wave.

That includes hospitalizations.

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The mayor highlighted provincial data showing between Dec. 24 and Jan. 6, “the rate of hospitalization for COVID-19 was four times higher for unvaccinated individuals.”

“And ICU admission was eight times higher for unvaccinated individuals.”

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg again reassured there are enough ambulances on the streets — 116 on Wednesday — despite recent concerns about shortages voiced by the union for paramedics.

There is an absenteeism rate of nearly 17% among paramedics — many off ill with COVID.

Pegg added firefighters are answering an average of about 60 calls each day, considered “low priority.”

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