With over 50 per cent of Ontario residents aged 80 and over having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Ontario government is expanding appointments through its online booking system to individuals aged 75 and over, effective Monday, March 22, 2021, ahead of schedule.
Premier Doug Ford said, “Thanks to the efforts of an army of frontline health care heroes and volunteers, we are getting needles in arms even faster than we had imagined. All we need now is a steady and reliable supply of vaccines from the Federal government to ensure anyone who wants one, gets one as soon as possible so we can all stay safe.”
Ontario began vaccinating individuals aged 80 and over in February, and launched an online booking tool and a call centre to help answer questions and support appointment bookings at mass immunization clinics. Since the provincial booking system was launched on March 15, more than 239,000 appointments have been scheduled for the first and second doses, the government said.
According to data from the provincial government, over 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the province, including over 129,000 doses administered to long-term care home residents. Over 294,000 Ontarians are fully immunized, including over 61,000 long term-care home residents.
On March 16, 2021, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) expanded its recommendation for the use of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine to people 18 years old and older. In alignment with NACI’s latest recommendation and Ontario’s Ethical Framework, as of March 22, 2021, participating pharmacies and primary care settings will offer vaccination appointments to individuals aged 60 and over. Eligible Ontarians can contact a participating pharmacy directly to make an appointment. In addition, many primary care providers are directly contacting eligible patients to book an appointment.
The province also continues to expand the delivery channels available to administer COVID-19 vaccines, with another 350 pharmacies to be brought on board across the province in the next two weeks bringing the total to approximately 700 locations. It is expected that this number would again be doubled to approximately 1,500 by the end of April.
Depending on vaccine supply, retail pharmacies could administer up to 40 per cent of all vaccinations by the end of April. Details on additional locations and the application process for pharmacy participation will be shared in the coming days. In addition, vaccinations in primary care settings will continue in collaboration with public health units.