Ages Expanded for Vaccination

The outlook for vaccinations seems to be improving rapidly, following the mostly-successful launch of the Province’s vaccination booking portal, the start-up of the City’s vaccination clinics, and the distribution of vaccine at several hundred Toronto pharmacies.

Ontario today announced a two-pronged expansion of this week’s rollout: pharmacies across the province can start scheduling vaccinations for anyone 60 and over; city-operated clinics will begin bookings for those 75 and up.

City Clinics

With fewer than expected residents aged 80 and up registering for vaccinations this week, a decision has been made to expand registrations to those 75 and up, beginning Monday. Anyone already 75, or who will be turning 75 this year, is eligible.

You can schedule your vaccination by visiting  Ontario.ca/bookvaccine, or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Information Line number at 1-888-999-6488.

It is expected that registration through the clinics will expand to those 70 and up by early April and to younger groups after that.

Although the city clinics operated at full capacity this week, as of late today appointments were still available for next week as the supply of vaccines continues to increase. For Willowdale residents not wanting to travel to the existing three clinics, Mitchell Field will be opening March 29 and you can book an appointment there as soon as your age group opens up for registration.

Pharmacies

Bookings can be made for anyone already 60 or who will be turning 60 this year by visiting

ontario.ca/pharmacycovidvaccine to find a participating pharmacy and contact the pharmacy to make an appointment.

The pharmacies will initially be distributing AstraZeneca only, with the intention of adding the Moderna vaccine later.

Several circumstances have caused some people to be hesitant about receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. Health officials have concluded that there is no reason for hesitancy and that you are best protected by receiving the first vaccine you are able to get.

A note on that: Initially, Ontario followed the advice of a federal health panel not to give AstraZeneca to anyone over 65, simply because there had not been enough people in that age group included in the company’s clinical trial. This week, the health panel reversed that decision, based on a further analysis which looked at the actual distribution of the vaccine in many countries.

A second AstraZeneca complication took place over the past few weeks as several countries paused its use after reports of a possible side effect involving blood clots in a small number of people. A review of that concern led to health officials in Canada and elsewhere concluding that these cases were no more common than would have occurred in the size of the population who received AstraZeneca.

Efficacy numbers for AstraZeneca are slightly lower than those for Pfizer and Moderna but the vaccines were tested in different times and places, so exact comparisons are difficult. All available vaccines have shown themselves to be extremely effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths.

– John