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Ontario seniors ‘living in fear’ of COVID-19 feel forgotten in vaccine rollout plan

Ontario seniors ‘living in fear’ of COVID-19 feel forgotten in vaccine rollout plan
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When the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved in Canada, Ketty Samel and her 76-year-old husband Morris believed the end to the long months of isolation was in sight. Since last March, the Thornhill, Ont., the couple has been hunkering down in their home.

“We’re living in fear. For me to go to a grocery store right now, I’m in a total sweat. I’m stressed, I walk in and I walk out. I grab whatever I need off the shelves and that’s it.”

Under Ontario’s vaccination rollout plan, Samel, 71, and her husband will be vaccinated in Phase 2 — a phase that could begin as early as March, according to government officials, and will continue through to July.  It’s a tiered system by age groups, starting with those 80 years of age or older, then decreasing by five-year increments.

“They’ve told us from the beginning of this pandemic that we were vulnerable. [After] long term care we were the next vulnerable population,” said Samel.

“And all of a sudden we’re expendable. That’s our feeling.”

The Ontario Ministry of Health says the roadblock to vaccinating more people faster is supplying, which is expected to increase in Phase 2.

But in the meantime, some are questioning whether everyone getting a dose in Phase 1 is as vulnerable as seniors in the community, with figures from Public Health Ontario showing that more than a third of COVID-19 deaths are adults over 60 who aren’t in long-term care.

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