The age threshold for booking a COVID-19 vaccine in an Ontario hot spot through the provincial booking system has been lowered and child-care workers will now be eligible for the shot.
In a news release issued Tuesday morning, the provincial government said that as of 8 a.m. today, individuals aged 45 and up in one of Ontario’s 114 high-risk neighbourhoods will be eligible to book their vaccine at a mass immunization clinic.
The age threshold for at-risk neighbourhoods was previously set at 50 years old.
“This is a step forward in Phase Two of our vaccine distribution plan to ensure we are protecting people and communities most at risk,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement.
“By using every available channel to deliver vaccines, we are working to vaccinate Ontarians as quickly as possible and stop the spread in our communities. I encourage everyone who is eligible to book their appointment as soon as they can.”
Individuals in hot spots and within this age group must use the online provincial booking system or call centre.
Other adults over the age of 18 in hot spots can also get the vaccine but only through mobile and pop-up clinics organized by local public health units and community groups.
Last week, Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table recommended moving 50 per cent of the province’s vaccine supply to hot spots.
The science table said that prioritizing higher risk neighbourhoods and essential workers will “substantially reduce the overall incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infections,” as well as lower hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths.
Under the province’s vaccination plan as of April 7, about 25 per cent of Ontario’s vaccine supply has been directed to the province’s 114 at-risk neighbourhoods.
On Monday, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is "studying it very carefully" and said a final decision on the recommendation would be made “very shortly.”
CHILD-CARE WORKERS NOW ELIGIBLE FOR VACCINE
The government also said that as of Thursday, child-care workers in licensed settings will be eligible to book an appointment for a shot using the provincial call centre at 1-833-943-3900.
Eligible workers will receive a letter from their employer and the letter must be available at the point of booking and brought to the vaccination appointment, officials said.
The province added that in the coming weeks eligibility may be expanded to those working in unlicensed child-care settings.
Education workers who provide daily support to students with special needs became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in mid-April. All education workers who live or work in high-risk neighbourhoods are also eligible for the shot.
While schools have been closed as a result of Ontario’s third wave, child-care facilities have remained open.
“Ontario’s child care workers are making a difference and supporting working parents at this critical time,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a statement. “That’s why child care workers provincewide will be eligible to book a vaccine appointment. Our child care centres are safe and the expansion of vaccines will further protect children and staff.”
The government urged patience as the list of those eligible for the vaccine is expanded.