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Ontario expands COVID-19 vaccine rollout to those aged 18-plus provincewide

Monday, May 17, 2021 @ 12:44 PM | By John Schofield


Ontario is opening its COVID-19 vaccination online booking system to individuals aged 18 and over a week ahead of schedule as vaccine supplies surge.

According to a May 17 news release, an earlier-than-expected shipment of 2.2 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses during the week of May 17 means any Ontarian turning 18 in 2021 will be allowed to arrange a vaccination appointment through the provincial online system or call centre starting May 18 at 8 a.m. The call centre can be reached at 1-833-943-3900. Booking eligibility was previously open only to those 18 and over living in one of the province’s 114 hot spot communities.

The news release noted that vaccine seekers who are 17 years old and turning 18 in 2021 must receive the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, which is currently the only COVID-19 vaccine approved by Health Canada for youth aged 12 and over.

Youth aged 12 to 17 and their family members who have not been vaccinated will be allowed to book their vaccination appointments through the provincial booking system starting May 31, said the release. And starting May 18, it added, public health units may begin providing vaccines to those aged 12 and over in pop-up and mobile clinics, as well as for walk-in appointments where the Pfizer vaccine is offered.

“This will include First Nations, Inuit and Métis clinics that offer the Pfizer vaccine,” said the release. “There will also be dedicated clinic times for youth during the weeks of June 14 and 21, 2021.”

As of May 12, noted the government news release, more than half of all Ontarians age 18 and over have received their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine and the province is on track to reach 65 per cent by the end of May. More than 93 per cent of Ontario residents aged 80 and over and more than 92 per cent of residents aged 75 to 79 have received at least one dose.

On May 14, more than 500 additional pharmacies in Ontario’s 13 hot spot public health regions began administering the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. A complete list of pharmacies offering COVID-19 vaccination can be found at ontario.ca/pharmacycovidvaccine.

News that the vaccine rollout is expanding to Ontarians aged 18 and older across the province was generally welcomed on Twitter but raised some concerns. Yoni Freedhoff, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, Tweeted: “I do find it staggering that we’re opening up to 18+ (and even 12+) for vaccination in Ontario, without having extended second doses to our 80+ community dwelling seniors.

“If we can do the former,” he added, “surely we can simultaneously do the latter.”

But infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a member of the government’s science advisory table, Tweeted: “It is now open season for #COVID19 vaccination in Ontario. Everyone 18+ is eligible to book anywhere in the province. Fantastic.”

Meanwhile, on May 17, Ontario reported 2,170 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional virus-related deaths, the lowest daily number of COVID-19 deaths in nearly two months. The rolling, seven-day average of new cases dipped to 2,352, down from 3,017 on May 10.

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care across the province declined to 779 compared with 828 on May 10.

If you have any information, story ideas or news tips for The Lawyer’s Daily please contact John Schofield at john.schofield@lexisnexis.ca or call 905-415-5891.