CITY HALL – While positive news about the success of two trial COVID-19 vaccines dominated this week’s news cycle, City of Ottawa staff spent time planning on how to distribute the vaccine to residents.

Emergency and Protective Services general manager Anthony Di Monte shared that plan with city council in a memo on Nov. 16 obtained by West Carleton Online.

“The purpose of this memo is to advise members of council of the establishment of the city’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force,” Di Monte wrote.

On Monday, Nov. 9, pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its partner BioNTech announced their vaccine candidate has been 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in ongoing Phase 3 trials.

“While this is very promising news for one of the many vaccine candidates in development, the rollout of any vaccine is expected to be a complex undertaking in the context of a global pandemic,” Di Monte said. “To ensure readiness should vaccines become available to Canadians, the City of Ottawa is proactively creating the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force under the leadership of Emergency and Protective Services department with key stakeholders such as Ottawa Public Health and in coordination with the city’s Emergency Operations Centre.”

The Task Force will develop a comprehensive plan for vaccine distribution in Ottawa, working with key stakeholders to develop strategies for the orderly and coordinated distribution of possible vaccines.

“This plan will include consideration of internal and external partners, vulnerable populations, the ongoing work of the city’s Human Needs Task Force and will include the development of an associated communications plan,” Di Monte said. “The Task Force will also monitor developments and refine its planning in response to updates from senior levels of government, public health authorities, pharmaceutical companies and internal and external stakeholders. This proactive work will ensure a timely and coordinated distribution plan is ready should vaccines become available in the future. In the meantime, it is imperative that all residents continue to adhere to local public health guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”