Windsor mayor calls for teachers, essential workers to move up phase 2 vaccine priority list

The province has updated its vaccine priority list to include people over the age of 50 in hot-spot communities, but Windsor’s mayor believes the province needs to consider essential workers.

“Things can literally change by the day and as we see the variants take hold, as we see things changing in our school system, as we see things changing with frontline and essential workers, we need to make sure that the vaccine rollout plan also adapts,” says Drew Dilkens.

Under the current plan, vaccine priority will continue to go to those the province deems most at risk, which includes elderly and vulnerable populations and people with high risk medical conditions.

It’s also prioritizing people living in hot-spots, including Windsor-Essex, Peel and Toronto, get earlier access to vaccines.

“When you have an inferno going on somewhere, you have to turn the hose there,” says Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

After those groups are vaccinated, the province wants to get shots into the arms of essential workers like teachers, factory workers and temporary foreign workers, which won’t likely happen until mid-May.

“There is no doubt that teachers should be at the front line of this,” says Dilkens, who is asking the province to adjust its priority guidance.

“We need to make sure the system is pivoting to address what we’re seeing on the ground,” Dilkens says. “The time to change is now and we’re asking Dr. Williams to give due consideration to appropriate changes.”

Dr. Wajid Ahmed noted during his briefing Tuesday the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is looking at ways to protect teachers.

“We are working on it, and as I said, they are in the highest priority in the essential worker group,” says Dr. Ahmed.

Premier Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott hinted during a media briefing Tuesday there’s more news on that front coming Wednesday.

“Every time you make a change and to vaccinate all teachers, which is a group of course, we want to get to because they cannot work from home, that means you’re taking supplies away from seniors too,” says Elliott. “So you need to be fair. You need to continue to follow the plan based on age, plus risk. And that’s what we’re constantly assessing.”