Ontario ramped up its vaccination effort Monday, accelerating second dose eligibility for some residents in hot spot regions across the province. Although many are eager to get their second shot faster, confusion over eligibility and wait times, as well as vaccine supply limitations, have left some feeling frustrated.
All60,000 new second-dose vaccination appointments created for Toronto clinics Monday morning were taken within hours, leaving many unsure of when they can finally be fully vaccinated. According to the Ministry of Health, nearly 100,000 vaccine appointments across Ontario were booked through the provincial portal by noon Monday.
“We know that appointments in some Public Health Units (PHUs) have booked up quickly and we continue to work with the PHUs to bring more appointments online,” said a spokesperson for the MOH in a statement to the Star, adding that appointments may be still available through other channels, such as pharmacies and pop-up clinics.
“We ask everyone to be patient as more appointments are brought online by PHUs.”
Here’s everything you need to know about accelerated second doses and when you should be eligible:
Who is eligible for a second dose now?
It depends on where you live.
If you received a shot of Pfizer or Moderna on or before May 9, you’re eligible to book an appointment for an accelerated second dose at one of Toronto’s immunization clinics. Those who received a shot of AstraZeneca at least eight weeks ago can also book their second dose now.
If you meet those same intervals and live in Halton, Peel, Porcupine, Waterloo, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph or York Region you’re also now eligible to book an accelerated dose two.
Outside of these hot spots, second dose eligibility is limited to anyone who is over 70, or who received their first dose before April 18.
In all of these cases, you can check your or your loved ones’ eligibility using the provincial booking portal at covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/.
You may also be eligible to get a second dose sooner, without an appointment, at a local pop-up clinic if you live in any of 18 hot spot postal codes designated by Toronto Public Health.
What about those pop-up clinics?
Toronto’s “Sprint Strategy 2.0” adds an additional focus on 18 hot spot postal codes, with mobile and pop-up clinics for both first and second doses, with the goal of protecting against the emerging Delta variant, which is more transmissible, especially if you’re partially vaccinated.
People who live, work or go to school in any of those postal codes can receive a second dose at a pop-up vaccination clinic after their minimum vaccine interval period has elapsed.
You’re asked to bring proof of your eligibility, including ID that shows where you live, work or attend school, but these clinics do not require an appointment.
If your first dose was AstraZeneca or Modern, the minimum wait for the pop-up clinics is the same as with the province, but if you received Pfizer you can get your second dose slightly sooner — a minimum of three weeks after your first dose, rather than four. (Dr. Vinita Dubey, associate medical officer of health at Toronto Public Health, said this is based on Health Canada guidance, which puts the second dose interval at three weeks for Pfizer and four for Moderna.)
The 18 hot spot postal codes are: M1B, M1G, M1J, M1S, M3J, M3K, M3L, M3M, M3N, M6N, M4A, M4H, M6M, M9L, M9M, M9N, M9V and M9W.
Everyone who received their first dose on or before May 9 in any other Ontario health unit will be eligible to book their second dose as of July 19.
As of Aug. 2, eligibility expands to anyone who got their first dose on or before May 30.
Finally, those who got their first doses on or after May 31 and people age 12 to 25 will be eligible starting Aug. 9, providing they meet the minimum interval.
When your time comes, the provincial portal is the best place to check your eligibility.
I tried to book on Monday and couldn’t find a spot, what do I do now?
If you were unable to secure a dose and live in a hot spot postal code, a clinic may be arriving in your neighbourhood. Michael Garron Hospital is operating seven hot spot second dose clinics everyday until June 20 with no appointment required.
More appointments are expected to be added to the provincial booking site and an additional two million doses of Moderna are expected to arrive by the end of June along with nearly five million from Pfizer by the end of July.
“With the volume of vaccines going out to pharmacies and to our mass clinics, please sign back in again because if you didn’t get an appointment today, we know you’ll get one in the next few days,” said Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, in a COVID-19 update on Monday.
What about pharmacies?
If you received your first dose at a pharmacy, the province encourages you contact the same location for your second. however you may be eligible at any participating pharmacy.
Pharmacies may also be reaching out to you to schedule your second dose, the province says.
I received AstraZeneca as my first dose. What shot am I eligible for now?
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization said in early June that Canadians who have received one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine can safely get a second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna.
In Ontario, if you received you AstraZeneca and are otherwise eligible for a second dose, you can get either mRNA vaccine or another shot of AstraZeneca.
In a release Monday, the Ministry of Health said no matter which vaccine you select for your second dose, you will have “strong protection” against COVID-19 and will be considered “fully vaccinated.”
AstraZeneca has been linked to Vaccine Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic (VITT), a very rare but serious side effect, however that risk is particularly linked to first doses, not second doses — if you had no trouble after your first dose of AstraZeneca, officials say you are safe to get a second.
The risk of VITT led Ontario to pause the administration of AstraZeneca as a first dose.
Article From: The Star