The mayor of Mississauga is urging the province to give Peel Region’s medical officer of health the ability to decide when to lower the age of eligibility for vaccinations at city-run mass immunization clinics.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday morning, Mayor Bonnie Crombie said regions need flexibility to be “nimble” when it comes to lowering the age of eligibility.

“We need the province to give the medical officers of health the ability to assess the situation and make the call as they see fit when to lower the age cohorts based on our local realities,” she said. “Just like they already do in York Region.”

While hospitals and regions that use their own vaccine booking system are able to lower the age of eligibility as they see fit, local public health units that use the provincial booking system must wait until the province decides to lower the age bracket.

Only those aged 60 and older, along with people 45 and older in hot spot postal codes, are currently eligible to book a vaccine through the provincial portal.

“We need the province to allow Peel, and in fact all public health units, to be nimble and to be flexible to get the vaccine out to our residents,” Crombie said.

“Dr. Loh has told me that with the expected new supply in May, we should be able to move more quickly through the age categories at our mass vaccination centres and at our hospitals but we need the province to give us the ability to adjust in real time based on what we are seeing on the ground right here in Peel.”

All of Peel Region should be a hot spot: Crombie

Crombie said she is also advocating to have all of Peel Region designated a COVID-19 hot spot. The province previously identified 114 postal codes in Ontario as COVID-19 hot spots and Crombie said all but a handful of neighbourhoods in Peel Region have already been included on that list.

“(This) would mean including just a few more postal codes in Mississauga and one other in Caledon. Peel is a very unique region, housing more warehouses, factories, distribution centres, food processing and packaging plants than anywhere else in the GTA,” she said.

“We are home to an incredibly large population of essential workers who have gone into very crowded workplaces day in and day out to provide us all with the products that we rely on and that we need to survive. They keep our economy running. Our essential workers live in every corner of this region, so by making all of Peel a hot spot, we would be able to start offering the vaccine right now to everyone 45 years of age and older.”

The province’s Science Advisory Table recently published a report suggesting that the Ford government should shift its vaccination strategy to begin sending 50 per cent of the vaccine doses the province receives to 74 neighbourhoods with the highest rates of COVID-19 transmission.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott told reporters earlier this week that the province is considering this course of action and will be making a decision in the coming days.

“Along with the other Peel mayors, I have been fighting hard to get more vaccine into our region, however allocation to Peel will begin to drop off in the last two weeks of May, making it more difficult for Dr. Loh and our hospitals to plan how and when they are able to provide vaccines,” Crombie said.

“That's why today I'm urging the province to commit to delivering a consistent supply of the vaccine to Peel Region.”