Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie is calling on the province to prioritize hot spot areas when it comes to rolling out second doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Peel is only receiving nine per cent of the province’s vaccines, yet we represent more than 20 per cent of all cases in Ontario,” Crombie said at a news conference Thursday.

The province allocated 50 per cent of its vaccine supply to hot spot areas in the first two weeks of May, allowing first doses to reach arms in the hardest hit parts of the province sooner.

During the rollout of first doses, the province also declared all of Peel region a hot spot, allowing it to greatly accelerate the pace of vaccinations.

Crombie said the strategy was “incredibly effective” and that it “helped all of Ontario, get out of the third wave.”

Asked by reporters Thursday about Crombie’s call to prioritize hot spots, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot said Peel Region is already receiving a large allocation of doses, second only to Toronto and that the region is able to further prioritize hot spot neighbourhoods if it chooses to.

“We also know that locally in Peel Region, the doses that are received can be allocated to hot spot areas that have been identified locally so that is still happening,” Elliott said. “And so we are confident that Peel is receiving large quantities of vaccine and will be well served in the coming weeks, as the vaccination continues.”

She also said the government is considering changes to the second dose rollout strategy to lower the age threshold for rebooking.

“That is something that the vaccine task force is looking at right now, in order to get more second doses into people as quickly as possible,” Elliott said.

Call comes amid concern over Delta variant

Crombie’s call to take a similar strategy for second doses comes amid concerns that the Delta variant (B.1.617), which was first detected in India and is believed to be more infectious and more dangerous for younger people, is moving towards becoming the dominant strain in the region.

A panel of experts said Thursday that the Delta variant now accounts for nearly a quarter of all new COVID-19 cases in the province. Peel Region’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh also said this week that the variant could replace the Alpha variant (also known as B.1.1.7 or the U.K. variant) as the dominant strain in Peel Region within a month.

“Getting residents in hot spots their second doses faster will protect the entire province from a potential fourth wave spurred by the new Delta variant,” she said.

Crombie said Ontario‘s COVID-19 science table is expected to release recommendations on a possible hot spot strategy for second doses in the coming days.

Currently, all those 80 and over are eligible to book earlier second dose appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine. However some areas have already lowered the threshold due to an abundance of supply. York Region said Wednesday that any of its residents who are 70 and over can now book an earlier appointment at their clinics.

This week, Ontario started receiving its largest vaccine shipments to date, with close to 1 million weekly doses of the Pfizer vaccine expected to arrive in the province through June.

The province has said that those 70 and up will become eligible to rebook an earlier second dose appointment provincewide on June 14. Then on June 28 anyone who received their first dose between the weeks of March 8 to April 18 will be able to rebook, followed by further groups at various dates through the summer.

While Ontario has administered close to 9.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, just 835,000 people have been fully vaccinated so far.