In anticipation of a ramp up in COVID-19 vaccine supply, Ontario is preparing to get needles in arms faster than previously planned.
On Thursday, the Ford government released an anticipated schedule which says that individuals aged 18 and older eligible to book through the provincial booking system as early as the week of May 24, 2021.
The province also says it will increase the supply to hotspot communities by over one million doses through a targeted, time-limited response based on the increased vaccine allocations Ontario is expecting in May.
As per the tentative schedule, during the weeks of May 3 and May 10, 50 per cent of vaccine allocations will be allocated to hot spots targeting mobile teams, pop-up clinics, mass immunization clinics, hospitals, primary care and pharmacies, the province said in a statement.
Officials clarified that this approach will not take away vaccines from other public health unit regions, whose allocations will remain the same as previously planned and will increase later in May. Public health units can also use local knowledge to ramp up capacity and effectively target hot spots, whether provincially identified or otherwise.
As the next step in Ontario’s vaccine rollout, effective April 30, at 8:00 a.m., individuals aged 55 and over are eligible to book a vaccine appointment. This same day, a pilot will launch through select pharmacy locations in hot spot communities to administer the Pfizer vaccine to individuals aged 55 and over.
Eight stores in Peel and eight in Toronto will participate in this pilot, with each location receiving approximately 150 doses per week to help Ontario continue to grow province-wide capacity to vaccinate as many individuals as quickly as possible.
This is expected to expand to additional public health units later in May following evaluation of the program and as supply allows. Pharmacies will continue to use their own booking system for appointments.
In addition, the first employer-operated workplace clinics are on track to begin operating this week in hot spot communities within Peel Region. Maple Lodge Farms and Maple Leaf Foods have begun vaccinating employees in partnership with Peel Public Health and Amazon preparing to do the same.
All three workplace clinics will also offer access to vaccines to the local community. Ontario will continue to work with employers who have expressed an interest in hosting workplace clinics to assess if they meet the criteria and help facilitate engagement with local public health units.