Coronavirus: Ontario to hold update on COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Coronavirus: Ontario to hold update on COVID-19 vaccine rollout
Coronavirus: Ontario to hold update on COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The Ontario government will be providing an update on its COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan on Friday.

First doses of vaccine are currently available to individuals 12 years old and up in Ontario, as vaccine eligibility expanded to those between 12 and 17 years old on Sunday. A vaccination appointment can be reserved on the provincial government’s booking site.

Friday’s vaccine rollout update is expected to detail plans for administering second doses, as two shots of vaccines that are being administered in Ontario are needed for full immunization.

Ontario is currently administering jabs four months apart with some exceptions for people with specific health conditions and other groups.

York Region’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Karim Kurji said at a regional council meeting on Thursday that he was told Ontario does intend to shorten intervals of second doses.

Kurji said the government has given the region a heads up that second doses could be administered as early as next week for the 80-plus age group and then subsequently moving down to the 70-plus age group.

He said his health unit is working through the logistics of administering second doses to ensure fairness and minimal confusion.

In a vaccine update earlier this month, the province said it was on track for hitting its target of administering the first dose to 65 per cent of Ontario adults by the end of the month.

Friday’s vaccine update comes as pharmacies are rushing to administer second doses of AstraZeneca vaccines that are set to expire on Monday.

Individuals who received an AstraZeneca vaccine between March 10 and March 19 became eligible to book an appointment for a second dose earlier this week.

Ontario Pharmacists Association CEO Justin Bates told CP24 on Thursday that most participating pharmacies in Toronto had not received the vaccines yet due to a delay caused by a quality assurance process to ensure the vaccines didn’t spoil while sitting in refrigerators.

Approximately 31,000 doses are set to expire after May 31.

Ontario temporarily paused the use of AstraZeneca earlier this month due to concerns about a risk of rare and potentially fatal blood clots. Ten days later, however, provincial health officials decided to offer its remaining inventory of the vaccine after studies showed the risk of adverse effects is low.

To date, more than 8.5 million doses of vaccine have been administered across the province since mid-December.

As of Wednesday evening, at least 594,854 people have been fully vaccinated against the virus in Ontario.

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