Monday marked a record day in Ontario for COVID-19 vaccine bookings.
Approximately 210,000 first dose appointments were made across the province, including 166,772 at City of Toronto run clinics.
Residents aged 18 and over and who live in 114 COVID-19 hot spot postal codes across the province became eligible to book their shot on Monday morning. The Ontario government says an increase in the supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has allowed them to expand booking eligibility.
The province said more than 130,000 appointments were booked by the early afternoon.
Some social media users said they logged on early in the day but still came up empty, as the provincial site showed tens of thousands of users in the queue minutes after bookings opened. Others reported technical errors with the site itself.
“You will get an appointment, but I am sorry about the problems people are having now,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott.
The province’s chief medical officer of health says the demand for the vaccine is an encouraging sign, and he urged people to have patience as they try to book appointments.
Dr. David Williams says demand will drop after the initial rush, and people will be able to book an appointment more easily soon.
Eligibility will expand further on Thursday when online bookings open up to residents 50 and older.
Others captured in that expansion include people with high-risk health conditions, those who can’t work from home including teachers and school workers and First Nation, Inuit and Metis people not previously targeted in earlier phases of the immunization drive.
If supply holds, the province expects to make those 18 and older eligible for a shot by the week of May 24.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending that Canadian provinces give the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to adults 30 years of age and older.
NACI also suggests provinces can use the single-dose vaccine on people who may have more difficulty booking a second dose of another vaccine.
Almost 1.2 million Canadians have received their first shot of AstraZeneca through their local pharmacies, but now there are rising concerns about the logistics of booking the second shots.
In an effort to make its vaccine roll out a little more flexible, Ontario has asked NACI to make a recommendation by mid-May that would allow people to receive a second shot of Pfizer or Moderna after getting treated with AstraZeneca first.
As of now, Canada is standing by the decision to extend the interval between COVID-19 doses to four months.
New numbers suggest only a small percentage, 1.3 per cent, of Canadians who have received that first dose have gone on to develop the virus. An even smaller share of that total have gotten seriously ill or died.
More than 33 per cent of the Canadian population has now had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the latest provincial numbers, there were 53,880 vaccine doses administered in the last 24 hour period. As of 8:00 p.m. Sunday, 5,378,249 total doses have been administered.
With files from the Canadian Press