More Ontarians are eligible to book their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine through the provincial system this week.
Those aged 70 and older, as well as people who received their first dose of an mRNA vaccine on or before April 18, can now book their second shot at mass immunization clinics on the province’s online booking portal or through its phone line.
People can also book through public health units that use their own booking system. York Region became the first public health unit to accept appointments for younger seniors aged 70-and-up.
AstraZeneca recipients who received the shot more than 12 weeks ago can now book an mRNA second dose through the provincial system.
The province updated its guidance last week to allow anyone who got AstraZeneca to choose between Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca for their second dose.
Eligible Ontarians can continue booking second shots through participating pharmacies or primary care settings that are giving out second doses.
The expansion comes as Ontario nears a vaccination milestone of 10 million doses administered. On Sunday, the province reported that it had given out more than 9,992,000 doses, with more than a million Ontarians fully vaccinated.
The dangerous new delta variant of COVID-19 has prompted politicians and public health officials to urge Ontario to learn from the early mistakes of its vaccine rollout and prioritize Peel Region for second doses to prevent the province from slipping into a fourth wave of the pandemic.
Evidence suggests a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is not as effective against that variant, which first emerged in India.
Dr. Lawrence Loh, the top public health doctor in the region, says Peel has the highest proportion of the Delta variant in the province.
“According to projections from the Ontario Science Table, the Delta variant (B.1.617) will replace B.117 as the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Peel in under four weeks,” said Loh this week.
The province has been able to move forward with accelerated second doses due to an increase in vaccine supply. The Ford government has said they will look to further accelerate things based on the availability of vaccines.
Ontario expects to receive approximately 4.7 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in June and approximately 3.54 million doses in July.
Canada is scheduled to receive 2.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week as more Canadians get their first and second jabs.
Those shots are the only expected shipments in what should be a comparatively quiet week of vaccine deliveries.
Moderna shipped 500,000 doses last week, with another 1.5 million shots due to arrive next week.
With files from the Canadian Press