Ont. on track to administer first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to 65 per cent of all adults by end of May
Published Wednesday, May 5, 2021 1:07PM EDT
The province says it is on track to administer first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to more than 60 per cent of Ontario residents aged 18 and older by the end of May.
During a vaccine briefing on Wednesday afternoon, officials confirmed that thanks to consistent supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, about 65 per cent of all Ontario adults should receive their first shot by the end of the month.
The province says it still intends to allow all adults in Ontario to book their first shot by the week of May 24 but available appointments for those vaccinations will vary from region to region.
Ontario will receive nearly 800,000 Pfizer doses every week this month and more than 900,000 doses each week during the month of June.
The province says it also expects to receive close to 400,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday and is slated to receive a similar shipment on May 17.
Future allocations of the AstraZeneca vaccine have not been confirmed and the province has yet to release details about how it will distribute the 116,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine that have been allocated to Ontario.
Health Canada postponed distribution of Johnson & Johnson doses to provinces while it investigates possible quality control issues with the first shipment.
This week, the Ontario government opened up the provincial booking portal to everyone 18 and older who resides in one of 114 hot spot postal codes. The province diverted 50 per cent of all incoming vaccine doses to hot spot communities this week and will do the same next week in an effort to offer first doses to people at the highest risk of infection.
According to the province, hot spots will receive an additional 500,000 doses next week on top of the per capita allocation.
About 44 per cent of people over the age of 18 in hot spot communities have received one dose so far.
The province said on May 3, when the provincial appointment portal opened to all adults in hot spots, a record 533,000 appointments for first and second doses were booked, with 22 per cent of the appointments booked in Peel Region and 63 per cent in Toronto. An estimated 90 per cent of appointments were booked that day by people between the ages of 18 and 44.
The City of Toronto confirmed Wednesday that city-run mass immunization centres are either fully booked or mostly booked through to June 6.
Despite calls to extend the number of weeks the province sends increased doses to hot spots, officials say there is no plan to continue diverting a significant amount of supply to those at-risk neighbourhoods beyond next week.
Moderna to be offered at select hot spot pharmacies
The province also announced Wednesday that starting this week, Moderna vaccine doses will be offered at up to 60 pharmacies in hot spot postal codes in Durham Region, Hamilton, Ottawa, Windsor-Essex, and York Region. Pfizer doses are already being offered to people aged 55 and up at 16 pharmacies in Toronto and Peel Region as part of a pilot program.
The province says over 2,500 pharmacies across Ontario will be ready to receive vaccines by the end of the week and details about locations will be announced when they begin to offer vaccines. People over the age of 40 are eligible to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at pharmacies but it is unclear when pharmacies will receive more doses.
The province has also confirmed that more large workplaces in Peel Region, including HelloFresh, Walmart Canada, Loblaws Companies, Magna, Air Canada, and Purolator will begin to offer employer-led clinics in mid-May.
Maple Leaf Foods in Peel Region successfully offered 620 doses to employees between April 28 and April 30 and a clinic is currently in progress at Maple Lodge Farms in Peel, where 930 doses have been administered to date.
Amazon Canada launched a vaccine clinic for its employees in Peel Region today and the Ontario Food Terminal will begin vaccinating workers at an employer-led clinic on May 10.
The province says at the end of this week, it also plans to deploy five mobile teams to help public health units vaccinate workers at small to medium-sized workplaces in Toronto, Peel Region, and York Region.
When the program is fully established, the province says there will be up to 15 mobile units operating to immunize employees at select workplaces.
Speaking at a news conference at Queen's Park on Wednesday afternoon, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is currently working on a plan to vaccinate children 12 and older after Health Canada formally approved use of the Pfizer vaccine for kids between the ages of 12 and 17.
"This is being planned. This is wonderful news. We want to make sure that our young people are protected from COVID as well," she told reporters.
Discussions, she said, are currently underway with the Ministry of Education on how to roll out the vaccine to children.
"We are actively working through that right now," she said.