A nurse administers the COVID-19 vaccine in the Newmarket vaccine clinic on Thurs., Jan. 7, 2021 (Siobhan Morris/CTV News)

London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) has advised its staff that first-dose vaccination of hospital staff in the region will temporarily cease to refocus on efforts to vaccinate vulnerable populations first.

The move comes as the province issued a new directive to vaccinate all long-term care home staff and residents by Feb. 15.

So far in Ontario 150,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered, and more than 8,000 people have completed the full two-dose regimen for inoculation.

Officials said daily inoculations will not exceed 15,000 to 20,000 doses per day until March 31.

Local health units have now begun to issue the vaccine directly in long-term care settings.

However, the expanded program and limited supply means that the priority remains with long-term care settings which are seeing the highest infection and death rates in the province.

“This means that effective immediately, the first-dose vaccination of hospital staff in the region will temporarily cease,” read an update posted to the LHSC website.

“Bookings for hospital staff at the Agriplex have been paused except for those with second-dose appointments. As more vaccine becomes available and as the priority populations are completed, this situation will be re-evaluated.”

While shortages have complicated the rollout of phase 1 for the vaccine the provincial government maintains that phase two is slated to being in April.

Officials listed five groups who will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 2 of their distribution plan.

Those who will be able to get the vaccine include:

  • Seniors over the age of 80. Officials say that they will decrease the age eligibility marker by five years throughout Phase 2 as supplies allow
  • Those living and working in other high-risk congregate settings
  • Essential workers, beginning with front-line essential workers
  • Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers
  • Other populations and communities “facing barriers related to the determinants of health” who are at a greater COVID-19 risk. This includes racialized communities.
  • Approximately 15 million doses of vaccine will be made available during this period.

WIth files from CP24 and CTV Toronto.