Some older Ontarians could soon be rolling up their sleeves to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at their local pharmacy.
The province is set to receive a shipment of 194,000 doses of the recently approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine today.
Health Canada has recommended against using the vaccine on those above the age of 65, so the plan in Ontario is to administer it mostly to those between the ages of 60 and 64.
Speaking during Question Period at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that the province plans to unveil a list of more than 300 pharmacies that will be administering the AstraZeneca vaccine by tomorrow. She said that qualifying members of the public would then be able to book appointments to receive their shots at those pharmacies by the end of the week.
“The 190,000 vaccines that we are expecting to receive today are time limited and we want to make sure they can be delivered quickly and efficiently through the over 300 pharmacies that have been identified,” she said. “This plan is ready to go and we will be receiving applications and online bookings as of Friday.”
The doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that Ontario will receive were shipped from the Serum Institute of India earlier this month and are set to expire on April 2.
That means that there is a time crunch to get them into people’s arms.
Elliott, however, said during Question Period that she is confident that all of the doses will be administered prior to their expiry thanks to the use of hundreds of pharmacies.
“We will be able to and have been ready to receive the AstraZeneca vaccines and will be able to deliver them before their expiry. And we can quadruple the level of doses we are doing each day in very short order but what we need are the large doses of the vaccine to come in,” she said.
Ontario has administered just under one million doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far but has said that it hopes to reach an additional 7.5 million people in the second phase of its rollout, scheduled for April to July.