Two-dose summer coming to Ontario, Ford says; province unveils COVID-19 second dose strategy
Published Friday, May 28, 2021 5:20AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 28, 2021 11:48AM EDT
All eligible Ontario residents are expected to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of this summer, with second dose appointments opening up to those 80 years and older starting on Monday.
“That's right friends, Ontario is ready to deliver a two-dose summer,” Premier Doug Ford said at a press conference Friday morning.
Today, provincial health officials released their plan to administer second doses, as Ontario hit its target this month of administering first jabs to 65 per cent of all adults. In addition, over 15 per cent of residents between 12 and 17 years old have received at least one dose.
Officials announced that the dose interval between first and second shots has been shortened from four months to as little as 28 days. However, the rollout of second doses will largely depend on supply, which has been steadily arriving in the country over the past few weeks.
“Of course this depends on the vaccine supply and the availability of appointments in your region. So while not everyone will be able to get their second dose shot four weeks after their first, we want to ensure you're fully immunized as soon as possible,” Ford said.
In June, the province expects to receive roughly 4.7 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the federal government. Shipments of the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccine are not yet known.
“It has been a very positive May in terms of seeing consistent supply of Pfizer, but Moderna, as Premier Ford mentioned, has been very inconsistent in when we receive it and how much we receive. As those supply lines become more consistent it just makes it easier to offer to more people,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said at the press conference.
As a result of shortening the dose interval, officials expect that all Ontario residents 12 years and older who want to be vaccinated will receive their second dose by the end of August.
The second dose strategy will be based on a “first-in and first-out” method, meaning residents can accelerate their second dose appointment based on the date of when they received their first dose. Second doses based on age will primarily be a factor for those 70 years old and up, unlike the previous strategy for first doses which was allocated based on age groups.
Starting on Monday at 8 a.m., residents 80 years old and up can start booking their appointment for a second dose on the province’s booking site.
On the week of June 14, eligibility will expand to residents between the ages of 70 and 79, and then eligibility will subsequently be broadened to other Ontarians based on when they received their first dose.
For those who received their first dose between March 8 and April 18, they can start booking their second dose in the week of June 28, depending on supply. Appointments at this time will also open to those with highest health-risk conditions and special education workers.
Next, second dose bookings will open to those who received their first jab between April 19 and May 9, and to those who are 50 years old and up and with high-risk health conditions.
On the week of August 2, Ontarians who received their first shot between May 10 and May 30, and those who cannot work from home and who have at-risk health conditions, can start booking their second shot.
And lastly, the rest of Ontarians who received their first dose on May 31 and onwards, including those between 12 and 25 years old, can start booking their second shot in the week of August 9.
Currently, second doses are being administered to long-term care, retirement homes, First Nations Elder care residents, high-risk health-care workers, people with certain health conditions and First Nations populations.
Two doses of vaccines that are currently being administered in Ontario are needed for full immunization against COVID-19.
On Sunday, first-dose vaccine eligibility expanded to those between 12 and 17 years old in Ontario.
AstraZeneca second dose strategy
Those who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be able to get their second dose in either 10-week or 12-week intervals.
Ontario temporarily paused the use of AstraZeneca earlier this month due to concerns about a risk of rare and potentially fatal blood clots.
However, this week the province opened up second dose eligibility to those who received their first dose between March 10 and March 19, as approximately 31,000 doses are set to expire on May 31. This means that the province shortened the dose interval to 10 weeks for people in this group.
Ontario Pharmacists Association CEO Justin Bates told CP24 on Thursday that most participating pharmacies in Toronto had not received the vaccines yet due to a delay caused by a quality assurance process to ensure the vaccines didn’t spoil while sitting in refrigerators.
On Friday, he provided an update to CP24 and said some pharmacies in Toronto started to receive the doses Thursday afternoon.
The province said 5,000 doses were delivered to pharmacies and primary care settings on Thursday and an additional 13,860 were shipped on Friday.
Jones said it is not yet known how many doses, or if any, will not be used by Monday’s expiry date.
For everyone else who took their first dose of AstraZeneca from March 20 onwards, the province will proceed with second doses on a 12-week interval based on the “first-in and first-out” method.
Health officials noted that those who received a first jab of AstraZeneca might be eligible for a mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) for their second dose, but the province is still awaiting guidance on mixing vaccines from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
Where to book your second dose
Ontarians are encouraged to return to the same site of where they received their first shot to get their second dose. But if it is not accessible or convenient, residents are allowed to book elsewhere.
If Ontarians were already signed up for a second dose appointment when they booked their first jab on the provincial site, they will have to rebook their second dose when they are eligible. The provincial booking portal will automatically cancel the later appointment.
For residents in public health units that don’t use the provincial booking site, they will have to visit their health unit’s website for second dose details.
Residents who received their first jab at a pop-up clinic should be informed about options for second doses, but these individuals can choose to book second doses at a mass immunization clinic or pharmacy through the province’s site.
Those who attended a pharmacy, hospital clinic or doctor’s office for their first shot, should contact those institutions about details for booking their second dose.
To date, more than 8.6 million doses of vaccine have been administered across the province since mid-December.
As of Wednesday evening, over 624,000 people have been fully vaccinated against the virus in Ontario.