Health Minister Christine Elliott says that the province is “examining” the possibility of letting more Ontarians book appointments for their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine weeks or even months ahead of schedule.

Ontario made residents 80 and up eligible to receive a second dose this week but wasn’t planning to extend eligibility to all individuals able to receive a shot until the week of August 9.

Elliott, however, told reporters at Queen’s Park on Thursday that discussions are taking place regarding whether other cohorts can also get their second doses sooner.

“We're looking at all options because we need to stay ahead of this (Delta) variant so that we can then move into stage one and get life back more to normal for people as quickly as we can,” she said.

Elliott’s comments come just one week after provincial health officials released an updated timeline for getting shots into arms.

Under that plan, residents 70 and up would become eligible for a second dose during the week of June 14 but the province would then switch to a “first-in and first-out” method where residents would become eligible based on when they received their first shot; not age.

Speaking with reporters during a subsequent briefing, vaccine task force member Dr. Dirk Huyer said that the province is committed to sticking to the general “structure and strategy” of its rollout plan for second doses, which means that residents will continue to be prioritized based on when they received their first shot.

But he said that the hope is that supply will ramp up and allow some of the dates to be moved forward.

“If we have more supply we can move those groups closer to the left so it is really compressing the timeline between first and second doses overall,” he said. “But it really would be based upon our supply and based upon the delivery of first doses because we are still balancing first and second doses in a number of areas around the province where the allocations were different.”

Elliott said that if the province was to accelerate the widening of eligibility it would be done across Ontario and not just in hot spot communities.

Nearly 70 per cent of Ontario adults have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine so far but only a fraction of those individuals (about 835,000 people) are fully vaccinated.