Second Doses Coming Sooner

All Toronto residents will be eligible for second doses at least a month earlier than expected, as part of a push to get as many people as possible fully vaccinated before the highly-contagious Delta variant takes hold here.

Delta has shown itself to be not only more transmissible but partially resistant to antibodies produced to fight COVID following vaccination. A recent UK study has shown all vaccines to be only about 33 percent effective against this variant after only one dose, but that number goes as high as 88 percent for Pfizer (and less than that for AstraZeneca) after two doses.

Data is not yet available on the effectiveness for combining a first dose of AstraZeneca with a second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna. That combination is now allowed in Ontario.

As of this Monday at 8 a.m, residents of Toronto and several other "hot spot" regions can book a second dose if they got their first dose of either Pfizer or Moderna before May 9. Appointments for these doses can be made at any of the nine city-run clinics using the provincial booking portal.

Until eligibility expands Monday, this opportunity is open to those who are over age 70 or those who received their first dose on or before April 19.

For those getting a second shot of AstraZeneca – provided through pharmacies, not city clinics - the current requirement is that the second dose be no sooner than 12 weeks from the first dose. That may change.

The situation is slightly more confusing for those who got a first dose of AstraZeneca but wish a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna. Those individuals can book their second dose at a city clinic through the provincial portal, or through the pharmacy where they got the first dose, or through another pharmacy. It appears at this time that the 12-week restriction between doses still applies.

Starting Monday, the City is also giving some priority to those aged 12-17 who have not yet received their first dose.

To deal with the anticipated demand for both first and second doses, the City is adding 60,000 appointments to its clinics, including Mitchell Field, for appointments between June 14 and July 4.

Further good news is that Canada is expecting seven million doses of Moderna towards the end of June, adding to a steady supply of Pfizer. These two vaccines both use the highly-effective mRNA technology.

As part of its push to get vaccination information to those whose first language is not English, the city is now booking information in various languages. You can now text VACCINE to 1-833-750-0888 to receive COVID-19 vaccination booking information in the following languages: Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Tagalog, Tamil, Urdu, Spanish, Portuguese, Farsi, Korean, Italian, French, Bengali, Vietnamese and Gujarati.

- John