Who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario and how can they book a shot?
TORONTO -- Ontario is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine effort to more age groups on Monday. Here are the key details:
What is changing?
Starting Monday, residents aged 75 and older can schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment through the provincial booking portal.
Also Monday, pharmacies in certain regions will offer the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot by appointment to those 60 and older. They previously only offered that shot to residents aged 60-64.
How is an appointment made through the provincial portal?
Residents aged 75 and older, or someone helping them, can book appointments by going online or calling 1-888-999-6488.
Those scheduling shots need to provide provincial health card details, as well their birth date, postal code and email address or phone number.
The provincial portal may direct residents to their local health unit's own booking site in some cases, based on the postal code provided.
Vaccines are administered at mass immunization sites or smaller venues, depending on the local health unit.
Who else can use the provincial booking portal?
In addition to those aged 75 and older, priority groups, including Indigenous adults, seniors in congregate care, and certain health-care workers can use the portal to book their vaccines.
Who can get a vaccine at pharmacies?
Select pharmacies in Toronto, Windsor and Kingston public health units that were previously offering the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot to those aged 60 to 64 will remove the upper age limit and offer the vaccine to anyone aged 60 and older.
The government is expanding the program after new guidelines said the shot could be used on those aged 65 and older as well.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization changed the guidelines on Tuesday, citing two studies from the U.K. that found signs of significant effectiveness against symptomatic COVID-19, and reduced hospitalizations due to COVID-19, among seniors. Those studies weren't available when the committee made its initial recommendations that limited the shot to those under 65.
Residents can contact pharmacies to make appointments. Participating locations are listed here.
There are currently 327 locations participating in the program and the province plans to expand it to more than 700 sites over the next two weeks.
By the end of April, the government said it hopes to have 1,500 pharmacies across the province administering vaccines.
What about doctors' offices?
Starting Monday, certain family physicians in six regions will offer Oxford-AstraZeneca shots to patients aged 60 and up.
Those doctors started giving that vaccine last weekend to patients aged 60 to 64.
The province has said the doctors will contact eligible patients directly.
Which vaccine should I get?
The government has urged residents to get the first vaccine available to them, saying all of the shots available are shown to prevent hospitalization from severe illness and death.
Are there any major issues with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine?
Some European countries had stopped administering the shot after reports of people who had received the vaccine getting blood clots, but reviews of the evidence have found no elevated risk.
The European Medicines Agency says there is no evidence of increased risk of blood clots from the vaccine, but added there is still not enough evidence to say if the vaccine played a role in a small number of clots in the vein that drains blood from the brain.
At least four of the countries that halted use of the vaccine are now resuming it.
Health Canada has declared the shot safe for use.
Thrombosis Canada, the national advocacy group for patients with blood-clot disorders, says there is a greater risk of getting blood clots from COVID-19 than there is from the vaccine.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2021.