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Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford

Ontario issues enhanced vaccine certificates, stresses need for health-care staff to get vaccinated

Friday, October 15, 2021 @ 2:20 PM | By Amanda Jerome

On Oct. 15, the Ontario government made the “enhanced vaccine certificate with official QR code” as well as the “verification app, Verify Ontario,” available for download.

According to the government’s announcement, the enhanced COVID-19 vaccine certificates are initially being made available for download in cohorts.

Enhanced certificates “will be made available for download from the COVID-19 vaccination portal over three days based on birth month:

  • October 15, 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.: All individuals born between January and April
  • October 16, 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.: All individuals born between May and August
  • October 17, 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.: All individuals born between September to December”

“Starting October 18 at 6:00 a.m.,” the announcement explained, “the portal will open for any individual to download their enhanced vaccine certificate, regardless of their birth month.”

The government noted that people can also call the “Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 to have their enhanced vaccine certificate emailed or mailed to them.”

Chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, said that “getting vaccinated is the most important thing we can all do to protect ourselves, our families and our communities from COVID-19.”

“Proof of vaccination using the new vaccine certificate with QR code and Verify Ontario app are important tools to help stop the spread of the virus while keeping businesses and organizations open safely,” he added in a statement.

According to the government’s announcement, since the proof of vaccination requirement went into effect, “more than 87 per cent of individuals aged 12 and over have been vaccinated with at least a first dose and more than 82 per cent with two doses.”

The government noted that people can “save the electronic version of their vaccine certificate with a QR code to their phone or print a paper copy” and stressed that businesses “must accept both electronic and paper versions.”

“In addition, while the current vaccine receipt without a QR code remains valid and will continue to be accepted, the province is encouraging individuals to download their enhanced vaccine certificate with a QR code as an easier, more secure and convenient way to have their proof of vaccination verified. Ontarians will need to continue to show a piece of identification with their name and date of birth along with their proof of vaccination when visiting select businesses and organizations,” the government’s release explained.

The Verify Ontario app will “only scan and read official, government issued QR codes, such as Ontario’s vaccine certificate and those SMART Health Codes from other provinces including Quebec, British Columbia and Yukon Territory.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Ontario Premier Doug Ford

In a press conference, Premier Doug Ford said Ontario continues to do “well in this battle” against COVID-19.

“We’re doing well because our approach was cautious and built on the advice of our public health experts. We’ve seen what happens in other provinces that move too quickly, and the result can be devastating,” he said, noting that in Ontario, “hospitalizations and ICU admissions remain stable” as daily case counts have declined.

“Because of the success, because so many of you have rolled up your sleeves, we’re now able to finalize our plans to exit Step Three of the Roadmap to Reopen and cautiously lift more public health measures,” he said, noting that the government is “finalizing the plan now” and it includes “where and when we may need to reapply measures should they be required to stop a surge in transmission.”

“The chief medical officer of health has been clear: the objective is to avoid further lockdowns. And if additional measures are necessary, they will be localized, tailored and aimed at limiting disruption to businesses and families,” Ford stressed.

The premier also noted that in Ontario, “and elsewhere across Canada, the issue of how to best protect our hospitals has once again come up.”

“As we’ve seen Quebec delay the implementation of their vaccine mandate for hospital workers, with B.C. softening theirs, here in Ontario many hospitals have implemented mandatory vaccine policies as our government has maintained flexibility for health leaders to do so if appropriate. While some have called for a provincewide mandate, any decision to do so needs to be weighed against the real risk of staff shortages that could compromise care,” he said.

Ford noted that “according to recent estimates, 15 per cent of our health system workforce remains unvaccinated putting the magnitude of potential staff losses in the 10,000s.”

“Let me be clear: every hospital worker should be vaccinated, and we encourage all of them to get vaccinated,” he stressed, noting that the “vast majority” have been vaccinated.

Ford said that “at a time when our doctors and nurses are already stretched to their limits, especially in northern and rural areas, we can’t afford to lose qualified staff.”

“At the same time, outbreaks in hospitals remain a rare occurrence thanks to the comprehensive infection prevention and control measures. In the past two weeks there’s been two outbreaks in hospitals, involving a handful of cases,” he added.

“All told, this is a very complex issue with real risks on either side. Risks that need to be weighed against the unintended consequences they may force. Recognizing the complexity of this issue, I’ve asked our top experts in the province for their feedback. This is an issue we need to get right,” he concluded.

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