Ontarians aged 80 and older find scheduling earlier second dose appointments challenging
TORONTO -- Ontarians aged 80 and older became eligible to move up their second COVID-19 vaccinations on Monday, but securing an earlier appointment was a bit challenging in some health regions due to a lack of supply.
The government announced last week that it would shorten the minimum interval between doses to just four weeks, starting with some of Ontario's oldest residents.
Joyce Grant was able to move her mother’s second dose appointment up to June 5 from early July, but she couldn’t find an appointment in her Peterborough, Ont. where her mother lives and received her first dose.
“They were like an hour and a half away,” she said.
Instead, they will have to travel to a vaccination clinic in Markham, Ont.
“And that’s somebody who has a ride. I could do that,” Grant said. You just have to keep in mind it’s amazing she’s getting the vaccine early, we’ll work it out.”
The City of Toronto recently added 10,000 appointments for seniors 80 years and up eligible for their second dose at some city-run mass immunization clinics including the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the Toronto Congress Centre, Scarborough Town Centre and Cloverdale Mall.
Toronto senior Geordi Beal, 80, was relieved he was able to rebook an earlier appointment when logged onto the provincial booking portal first thing Monday morning. His second dose was originally scheduled for early July.
“It feels great, I might get to see my grandkids for the first time in 16 months,” he said.
In Durham Region, online bookings are currently not an option. Instead, anyone interested in fast-tracking a second appointment will have to contact the call centre, set up by the local health unit.
For James Calder, that was a frustrating experience after spending hours on the phone trying to book an earlier appointment for his parents.
“The message was due to unforeseen circumstances they couldn’t take my call, the message changed little to due to overwhelming call volumes we are unable to take your call.
Some hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area are contacting eligible seniors directly to reschedule their second dose.
“We aren’t using the provincial booking system, so last week when we got the notice we immediately started to rebook,” said Kristen Winter with Sunnybrook Health Science’s Centre in Toronto. “They receive an email automatically advising them of their new date and new time.”
Sunnybrook had administered first doses to more than 6,000 seniors 80 and older and will continue rebooking their appointments this week.
“So far we have 2,000 booked and they are starting on Thursday,” Winter said.
Those 70 and older will see their interval shortened in mid-June, and after that, residents will become eligible for second doses based on when they received their first shot.
Files from The Canadian Press