As of Tuesday, April 20 Ontario will offer the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to people aged 40 and over at pharmacies and primary care settings.
“Last week, based on the review of available data from Europe and United Kingdom, Health Canada announced that it was not restricting the use of AstraZeneca vaccine in any specific populations at this time,” Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said in a statement. He noted that, by extending vaccination eligibility of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Ontario will be able to offer the protection of the vaccine to more Ontarians earlier than anticipated, significantly increasing access to vaccines in hot spot communities.
“The health and safety of Ontarians is always our top priority, and for that reason, only COVID-19 vaccines that Health Canada determines to be safe and effective are approved for use in Ontario. All COVID-19 vaccines available in Ontario have been shown to prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death,” Williams added, noting that adverse reactions are “extremely rare” and that individuals book their appointments as soon as they are eligible.
At the end of March, the NACI recommended (at the time) that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine not be used in adults under 55 years of age after rare cases of serious blood clots were reported. Last Wednesday, Health Canada updated Canadians about its ongoing safety review of blood clots associated with low levels of blood platelets following immunization with the AstraZeneca vaccines.
The department concluded that these “very rare events” may be linked to use of the vaccine, and they have updated warnings in the product information to inform Canadians of the possible side effects.
“Based on the review of available data from Europe and from the United Kingdom and AstraZeneca, no specific risk factors have been identified. Therefore, Health Canada is not restricting the use of the vaccine in any specific populations at this time,” the department stated in a press release, adding that the benefits of the vaccine in protecting against COVID-19 “outweigh its potential risks.”
“In the very rare event that someone experiences unusual blood clots with low platelets, there are treatments available,” the statement continued.
Still, the expanded eligibility of the vaccine hasn’t inspired widespread confidence on social media.
The moment I read this news, I have personally messaged more than 20 of 40+. They were excited and as soon as I told them this is Az, they changed their mind.
I don’t know how to convince them to take it.
Can we adminster Az through mobile clinics?
— Vikas Jindal (@Vikasjindal89) April 19, 2021
Others were overjoyed about the news that Generation X can now get vaccinated, seemingly tossing aside any vaccine hesitancy like 1992’s Lollapalooza lineup.
— Dave Breakenridge (@BreakenridgeYEG) April 19, 2021
As of Monday, 3,904,778 doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Ontario. In total, 4,852,885 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to Ontario for administration (meaning, 80.5 per cent of doses delivered have been administered).
The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines require two doses, a number of weeks apart, for full efficacy. As of Monday, more than 3,558,773 people from Ontario have received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, and 346,005 Ontarians (2.4 per cent of people in Ontario) have been fully vaccinated.
On Monday, Ontario reported 4,447 new COVID-19 cases, higher than Sunday’s case count of 4,250 and Saturday’s case count of 4,350 new cases. For the past six days, Ontario has had more than 4,000 in daily case counts.
In Monday’s report, 1,299 cases were recorded in Toronto, 926 in Peel Region, 577 in York Region, 233 in Ottawa, 227 in Hamilton, 205 in Durham Region, and 203 in Niagara.
Nineteen deaths were reported in Monday’s cases count, increasing the provincial total to 7,735.
The latest figures come just days after Premier Doug Ford’s government implemented stronger enforcements, travel restrictions, and public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. This initially included giving police officers and other provincial offences officers enhanced authority to require any individual to provide their home address and purpose for not being at their residence, as well as the authority to stop vehicles to inquire about an individual’s reasons for leaving their home.
However, the new regulations sparked anger over privacy issues, and many major police services across the province, including the Toronto Police, released statements that they would not be doing random stops of individuals or vehicles.
New emergency orders announced yesterday to help limit the spread of Covid-19 are now in effect. The Toronto Police Service will continue to engage, educate and enforce, but we will not be doing random stops of people or cars. 1/2
— Toronto Police (@TorontoPolice) April 17, 2021
In a statement on Saturday, the provincial government somewhat amended the regulations, with Solicitor General Sylvia Jones noting that:
“If a police officer or other provincial offences officer has reason to suspect that you are participating in an organized public event or social gathering, they may require you to provide information to ensure you are complying with restrictions,” she stated. “Every individual who is required to provide a police officer or other provincial offences officer with information shall promptly comply.”
Click here for more COVID-19 Ontario updates.