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.
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.
To date, 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.
Tuesday, 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. 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.
The province continues to expect a high volume of traffic on its online booking system. Everyone is eager to receive the vaccine, but those not yet eligible for a vaccine are being asked to avoid accessing the booking system or calling the service desk to allow those that are eligible the opportunity to book an appointment.
For the month of March, Ontario is expecting to receive 1,454,310 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Ontario received limited allocations of the Moderna and AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD in March, with 483,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine split over three weeks, and 194,500 doses of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine received the week of March 8.
Ontario’s exact allocations and delivery timing for the Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccines after March are pending confirmation from the federal government and are not known at this time.
Vaccinations with the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine at pharmacies require an appointment to be made in advance. Eligible adults aged 60 and over (if 60 or older as of the day of vaccination or, if will be 60 or older in 2021) who are interested in booking an appointment, can visit ontario.ca/pharmacycovidvaccine to find a participating pharmacy and can contact the pharmacy to make an appointment.
Vaccinations with the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine at primary care settings are part of a limited rollout according to available supply and are not taking appointments by request. Do not call your primary care providers to book an appointment – participating primary care providers in select areas are reaching out to eligible Ontarians aged 60 and older.
If an individual is turning 75 or older in 2021 and does not live in a congregate care setting, they can schedule a vaccine appointment by visiting Ontario.ca/bookvaccine, or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Information Line number at 1-888-999-6488. The Provincial Vaccine Information Line is open Monday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is capable of providing assistance in 300 languages.