Vaccine Age Lowered to 60

Due to a surprisingly low response from older residents, Toronto clinics are expanding appointments to anyone born in 1961 or earlier. Those in the new 60-69 age group can begin registering for an appointment at 8 am tomorrow (Friday) morning. If you are willing to travel a bit, you might even be able to get vaccinated this weekend.

As of yesterday, there were 12,000 unfilled appointments available at city clinics over the next few days. Willowdale’s highly-popular Mitchell Field site, however, is fully booked until at least April 7. The website will direct you to the site closest to where you live, but you can register at any of them.

To schedule an appointment visit Toronto.ca/covid19 or 1-888-999-6488. All city-operated clinics using this website or phone number are currently administering the Pfizer vaccine.

The efficiency of the operation at Mitchell Field, in addition to the kindness and helpfulness of the staff there, has been highly praised by multiple residents. There have been no lineups and plenty of available parking that staff can help direct you to. There is also a shuttle bus operating every 30 minutes from Finch Station. Please do not arrive more than 15 minutes ahead of your scheduled appointment.

To add more good news to the mix, pharmacies are now administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to those 55 (born in 1966 or before). This is the age group currently recommended for AstraZeneca, a vaccine for which there have been no major adverse effects in Canada, despite a large number of doses going out. Unfortunately, a string of reporting gaffes by the company and concerns about a small number of potential serious side effects in women under 55 in Europe has caused confusion around AstraZeneca’s safety and effectiveness.

Canadian Health officials are currently not recommending AstraZeneca for those under 55. Although the vaccine is thought to be less effective than the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in preventing infection, it is believed to be equally extremely effective at preventing hospitalization or death.

Both nearby hospitals, North York General and Sunnybrook, are now booking appointments for adults of any age with serious chronic medical conditions. Caregivers accompanying them to an appointment are also able to be vaccinated at the same time. For more information on who qualifies, click here.

I have also been contacted by residents who are unable to travel to receive a vaccine. I am told by Toronto Public Health that the agency or physician providing you with assistance at your home should be contacting you to arrange delivery of the vaccine.

I am still perplexed by what I hope is only a delayed response among older residents signing up to be vaccinated. If anyone has thoughts on why this is happening I would be interested in hearing it, so that we will know what we can do to encourage participation. I was initially concerned that we might experience this with younger adults who consider themselves impervious to COVID, but I never imagined it in the age group in which 95% of the deaths occurred during the first two waves.

I, by the way, got my first dose at North York General Hospital earlier this week. The experience could not have been easier or more pleasant.

– John