With over 50 per cent of Ontario residents aged 80 and over having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Ontario government is expanding appointment eligibility through its online booking system to individuals aged 75 and over ahead of schedule, beginning Monday March 22 at 8:00 am. If an individual is turning 75 or older in 2021, they or someone acting on their behalf can schedule a vaccine appointment by visiting Ontario.ca/bookvaccine, or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Information Line number at 1-888-999-6488. The Provincial Vaccine Information Line is open Monday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is capable of providing assistance in 300 languages.
The province continues to expect a high volume of traffic on its online booking system. Everyone is eager to receive the vaccine, but those not yet eligible for a vaccine are being asked to avoid accessing the booking system or calling the service desk to allow those that are eligible the opportunity to book an appointment.
Expansion of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD Eligibility to 60+
On March 16, 2021, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) expanded its recommendation for the use of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine to people 18 years old and older. In alignment with NACI's latest recommendation and Ontario's Ethical Framework, as of March 22, 2021, participating pharmacies and primary care settings will offer vaccination appointments to individuals aged 60 and over.
Vaccinations with the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine at pharmacies require an appointment to be made in advance. Beginning Monday March 22, adults who are or will be 60 and over in 2021 who are interested in booking an appointment, can visit ontario.ca/pharmacycovidvaccine to find a participating pharmacy and can contact the pharmacy to make an appointment.
Vaccinations with the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine at primary care settings are part of a limited rollout according to available supply and are not taking appointments by request. Do not call your primary care providers to book an appointment – participating primary care providers in select areas are reaching out to eligible Ontarians aged 60 and older directly.
Unison Community Health Centre in Lawrence Heights has advised our office that they have a limited number of appointments available next week to administer the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD Vaccine to eligible individuals 60+ residing within their catchment area. To inquire about appointment availability, please call 416-787-1661, extension 3302.
It's been quite an extensive news week here in Ontario. For over a year now, my office has been preparing these weekly newsletters to keep you well informed with the response to COVID-19 and other measures introduced by all levels of government.
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This week, the province continued to expand the delivery channels available to administer COVID-19 vaccines, announcing another 350 pharmacies will be brought on board across the province in the next two weeks, bringing the total to approximately 700 locations. It is expected that this number would again be doubled to approximately 1,500 by the end of April. Depending on vaccine supply, retail pharmacies could administer up to 40 per cent of all vaccinations by the end of April.
Details on additional locations and the application process for pharmacy participation will be shared in the coming days. In addition, vaccinations in primary care settings will continue in collaboration with public health units. For the most up to date information on Ontario's vaccine rollout, visit http://ontario.ca/covidvaccine.
This week, the Ontario government also announced that it'll be investing $933 million in 80 new long-term care projects, which will lead to thousands of additional new and upgraded long-term care spaces across the province. Today's announcement moves the government a step closer to fulfilling its commitment to add 30,000 much-needed long-term care spaces over ten years.
In addition to modernizing the long-term care sector, these projects will add 7,510 new spaces and upgrade 4,197 spaces, helping to reduce waitlists and end hallway medicine. This investment also supports key government priorities, including providing new spaces for Indigenous, Francophone and other cultural community residents.
The Ontario Government is making it easier for businesses to test for COVID-19 in the workplace by providing guidance to employees who want to self-swab for a rapid antigen point-of-care test on a voluntary basis under the supervision of a trained individual. Based on the success of the initial deployment of rapid antigen testing, the government is also expanding the program to more sectors including first responders, emergency medical services, trucking and transportation, wastewater management, and post-secondary institutions.
Rapid antigen testing can provide an additional layer of safety in workplaces and provide reassurance to employers and employees alike. By clinically endorsing supervised, voluntary self-swabbing for asymptomatic individuals, Ontario is helping businesses reduce the administrative costs of using antigen tests by allowing staff to consider the option of taking their own swabs under the supervision of a trained individual.
My constituency office is open for appointments only. In efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we encourage you to continue to contact us at (416) 781-2395 or email [email protected]. We remain ready to assist.