Approximately 15,000 people aged 18 and older are expected to be vaccinated at a new pop-up clinic in North Etobicoke over the next three weeks.

A large pop-up immunization clinic has been set up at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, located near Finch Avenue and Highway 427 in North Etobicoke, where staff will begin inoculating residents in the community starting this week.

The clinic, which will be hosted in partnership with BAPs Charities, William Osler Health System, and Toronto Public Health, is open to all residents 18 and older in the M9R, M9W, M9V, L4T, and L6S postal codes.

Bookings for the clinic will begin on Wednesday and vaccinations will start on April 14.

The province says the clinic is part of a wider rollout of the vaccine to residents in hot spot neighbourhoods in Toronto and Peel Region.

The premier has vowed to prioritize all adults in communities most impacted by the virus, identified by their postal code. Age limits at vaccination clinics around the GTA have already been lowered for many people living in hot spot zones, but details about how the youngest people in those areas will get vaccinated have been murky.

The province says municipalities will send mobile teams to at-risk communities and pop-up clinics will be hosted in hot spot neighbourhoods. Over the weekend, 2,400 doses were administered to residents in the Thorncliffe Park area at a pop-up clinic. Details about clinics, the province says, will be provided by local public health units.

Officials say they plan to inoculate people in the highest risk communities in Toronto and Peel Region by the end of April and all other hot spot neighbourhoods in May.

In an effort to roll out the vaccine to more hot spot locations, the province says it is also exploring the possibility of individual workplaces hosting on-site vaccination clinics for people 18 and over.

Local hospitals and public health units would assist eligible companies in hosting the workplace vaccination clinics, according to officials.

Toronto residents in hot spot postal codes who are currently 50 and older are permitted to use the provincial system to get a vaccine at one of nine city-run clinics but confusion about the rules prompted some younger hot spot residents to travel to city-run mass vaccination sites over the weekend only to be turned away. Many residents have expressed frustration about the lack of clarity surrounding the province’s plan.

Officials in Toronto said Monday that younger residents in hot spot areas will not be getting vaccine appointments at mass immunization sites for now, but that could change.

'I never mislead anyone'

At a news conference on Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford defended his government’s vaccine distribution plan.

"For the folks that find it confusing, I have to tell you, 2.8 million people (who have appointments booked) didn’t find it confusing (and) 3.3 million people that we had vaccinated didn’t find it confusing. So, if I am doing the math right, we’re well over six million people that didn’t find it confusing," Ford said.

Toronto Mayor John Tory told CP24 on Monday that he hopes the province will soon permit those aged 18 and older in hot spot postal codes to book an appointment at city-run clinics through the provincial portal but to date, the province has not indicated that it has any plans to do this.

At Tuesday's news conference, Ford denied the suggestion that it was misleading to tell people 18 and older that they would be eligible for a shot despite the fact that many are not able to book an appointment at hospital clinics or through the provincial portal.

“I never mislead anyone. I’m very clear. Right now, if you are in a hot area, a hot zone, and let’s say an employer... it’s 18 plus. You are going to vaccinate that company. It doesn’t matter if that person is 21 or 31 or 41 or 51. People want to get vaccinated. No, not by any means would we do that. We want to make sure we get the vaccines into people’s arms as quickly as possible," he said.

The Ford government has been questioned about hot spot postal code selection in recent days after a CBC story revealed that some postal codes that made the cut appeared to be less affected by the virus than others that did not make the list.

The majority of the postal codes identified in the story were ridings represented by PC MPPs.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said there was “absolutely no political motivation whatsoever.”

“The hot spot areas were originally identified on the basis of historic data where there had been an acceleration in the number of cases. But it is also being reviewed on a regular basis by our chief medical officer of health... and by the public health measures table,” she said.

“This was all decided upon on the basis of the clinical evidence.”

Many older Ontarians still not vaccinated

Despite lowering the age eligibility in hot spots, Ontario is still struggling to vaccinate people between the ages of 60 and 70.

According to the latest information from the province, only 38 per cent of people between the ages of 65 and 69 have received their first dose and only 35 per cent of those between 60 and 64 have been given a shot.

Meanwhile, GTA municipalities have reported significant issues with vaccine supply, including York Region, which was forced to close its mass vaccination site at Canada’s Wonderland due to a lack of vaccine.

The province says delivery delays with the Moderna vaccine are having a significant impact on the continuity of clinics in some regions.

Both scheduled shipments of the Moderna vaccine have been delayed this month. The first shipment, which was planned for the week of April 5, is expected to be delivered this week and the second April shipment of nearly half a million Moderna doses has been delayed until the end of the month.

Nearly three million doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive in Ontario over the next seven weeks.

The province recently received a new batch of AstraZeneca vaccine doses but future allocations are up in the air. The province is distributing the AstraZeneca vaccine to more than 1,000 pharmacies across Ontario and on the advice of Canada’s immunization advisory panel, only people over the age of 55 can receive an AstraZeneca shot. Elliott told reporters Tuesday that if supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine runs out in Ontario, the province is able to distribute the Moderna vaccine to participating pharmacies.