The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is picking up steam in Canada and with more shipments on the way this week more Ontario residents are getting ready to roll up their sleeves.
Canada is expecting a delivery from Pfizer-BioNTech this week, but a senior government official says we could also receive a shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine, approved by Health Canada on Friday.
No shipment has been confirmed, however, the official tells The Canadian Press Ottawa is hoping to start receiving vaccine doses from the country’s third approved vaccine this week.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week, that Canada will get 6.5 million doses from Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca by the end of March.
“There will be tens of millions more doses to come between April and June,” said Trudeau.
The U.S. is also getting a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19, as the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two.
Health Canada has received additional data from the U.S. drugmaker now that the vaccine has been approved for use south of the border.
Canada has an order placed for 10 million doses of the yet-to-be-approved J&J vaccine, with options to purchase 28 million more.
The J&J vaccine can last three months in the refrigerator which makes it easier to handle than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which must be kept frozen. The AstraZeneca vaccine is made similarly to J&J’s and can be refrigerated but still takes two shots instead of the single-dose.
In the GTA, Peel Region has begun administering COVID-19 vaccines to adults 80 and over, as other regions prepare to allow the same age group to begin pre-registering for their vaccination appointments.
Starting Monday morning, residents aged 80 and older in York Region will be able to book an appointment for their COVID-19 vaccine.
Ontario’s online booking portal for vaccinations won’t be ready until the week of March 15, at which point those who are priority to receive a shot can pre-register for their appointment.
The website will reportedly begin a “soft launch” in six public health units this week.
A senior government official tells the Canadian Press the website will not be available to the general population. The source says health officials will reach out to a small number of residents who are 80 or older, as well as some eligible health-care workers, beginning on Monday.
The source says the plan will help the province test out components of the system before the full launch in two weeks.
The regions that are part of the soft launch are Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox and Addington; Peterborough County-City; Hastings and Prince Edward Counties; Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark; Grey Bruce; and Lambton.
The City of Toronto plans to start vaccinating people experiencing homelessness in the shelter system starting this week.
Toronto Public Health says doses will be administered at homeless shelters deemed the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 under the province’s Phase One priority framework for vaccinations.
With files from the Canadian Press