ontario vaccine

People in Ontario may be getting second COVID vaccines way sooner than they expected

Just days after announcing that it will be expediting the timeline for second vaccine doses — with priority given, as in the first round, to the elderly and immunocompromised — the Government of Ontario is considering hastening the process even further and doing away with the staged rollout altogether.

As of May 28, the plan was to start administering final jabs to residents 80 and older starting May 31, and then to those 70 and older starting June 14.

That would be followed by those who received their first inoculation within a certain time window starting June 28, and then by those who received their shots within later timeframes after that.

But, Health Minister Christine Elliott revealed on Thursday that Premier Doug Ford and his team are in talks about getting rid of the age and other requirements and opening up second appointments to everyone in the province.

Elliott said to reporters at Queen's Park that the impetus is, of course, "to make sure that anybody who wants to receive their second vaccine can get one as quickly as possible," especially as the province begins to open up and certain variants of concern continue to spread.

Health officials such as Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and her Peel Region counterpart Dr. Lawrence Loh now believe that the Delta variant in particular could become the dominant strain of the virus in their regions.

There has been palpable tension around citizens vying for their second doses while some are still awaiting their first, while some clinics are still advertising far too many open spots that many are arguing should be used for second immunizations if they aren't being taken otherwise.

The government has decided that residents who received an AstraZeneca shot will be able to mix and match for their second dose, which should also provide fewer barriers to gaining access to the vaccine.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has also said that individuals can safely have one dose of each of the Pfizer and Moderna shots, which both employ mRNA technology, unlike the AZ.

Elliott did not provide a date by which the government plans to make a decision about opening up second vaccine appointment bookings, or when the change could actually be put into effect.

Hopefully, if they do speed things up, appointment slots won't be as impossible to nab as the first time around.

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