Ontarians over 80 can soon book COVID-19 vaccine appointments

COVID-19 in Ontario

Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, the head of the province's vaccine rollout, announced the timeline Wednesday while noting the schedule is dependent on supply.

"Our plan is in place, we're rolling it out", Hillier told reporters.

He says people aged 65 and older will be vaccinated starting June 1.

Phase two of Ontario's vaccination rollout is expected to begin in April 2021.

Hillier warned that people should not try to access the website outside of their given timeframe as they will not be able to use the system.

Gen. Hillier said it wasn't necessary to launch the booking system until March 15 because of a lack of vaccine supply from the federal government. "If we get more vaccines brought to Ontario, brought to Canada ... that would speed up that process", he said.

"We don't need to answer it right now".

Critics said the government was taking too long to launch the online booking portal and get seniors their shots.

Ontario finished offering the first dose of vaccine to all long-term care and high-risk retirement home residents on February 14 and Hillier said the province is in the process of completing those immunizations.

So far, Ontario has administered just over 600,000 vaccine doses, with more than 250,000 people fully vaccinated - representing around 1.7 per cent of Ontario's population.

Third week of March: Vaccinations start for those 80 and older.

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"They put up their website [and] bang, it crashed".

"That will be something that Dr. David Williams and his team will then be reviewing and will be making recommendations to us in cabinet, preliminary recommendations, that will be reviewed following the next block of data that comes in on Thursday and then a determination is made as to whether there should be a change, whether the emergency brake should be applied or whether Thunder Bay should move into a different category", Elliott said. "We are doing more than Alberta".

With more vaccine doses arriving in the first week of March, the province will focus on completing vaccinations of the residents of all 626 long-term care homes and all 775 retirement homes in Ontario - more than 100,000 people.

Phase three covers the general population, at which point all individuals who wish to be vaccinated will receive the vaccine.

A Quebec study found the COVID-19 vaccine to be 80 per cent effective after a first dose in the elderly and health-care workers.

"The bottom line is we need vaccines. If we had millions of vaccines this should be a lot easier", Ford said.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said almost 54,900 tests were completed, and 602,848 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered.

Residents will be notified about the availability of vaccines through media announcements, flyers delivered to households and phone calls from health units, said Hillier, who asked that families and community groups help those 80 and over book their shots.

Additionally, the province is now developing an online vaccination booking system to support the next phase of rollout. He said officials are also continuing to focus on remote First Nations communities.

In the next phase of its COVID-19 vaccination plan, Ontario plans to offer a minimum of 340,000 vaccine doses per day.

Hillier said these locations could include mass vaccination clinics, a pharmacy, or potentially a "mini-mass vaccination clinics", where primary care professionals would come together to create a smaller clinic for their patients and others.

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