covid-19 vaccine news

Portal for Ontarians to book COVID-19 vaccines not ready until March 15

An online portal for people to book their COVID-19 vaccine appointments in Ontario will be launched on March 15.

Retired general Rick Hillier, head of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, announced on Wednesday that people 80 and over will be able to book their appointments first, beginning on March 22. In April, people over 75 will be able to book. This will be followed by people over the age of 70 in May, and people aged 65 and over in June.

“We have asked each public health unit, with all of those resources, to make sure that they can rise to a minimum of 10,000 vaccinations per day,” Hillier said. “There are 34 public health units in Ontario and you can do the math quite easily—that given the number of vaccines that we could get, we can ramp up our capacity to put them in the arms of people very quickly across Ontario.”

Hillier added that all essential workers would likely be able to receive first doses during the first week of May, although he did not provide a timeline of when other groups under 60 will be in line to be vaccinated.

“Early summer is when we might be able to discuss that issue,” Hillier said.

Alberta and Quebec have already launched their COVID-19 online vaccine booking systems, but Hillier noted that Ontario has first been focusing on priority groups (i.e., residents of long-term care homes) who don’t need to book online appointments right now.

“We don’t need those people to book appointments, we have a different methodology,” Hillier said. “It is not needed until at least the third week of March—that we’re into a category where we actually need bookings at mass vaccination clinics or in pharmacies.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford also touched on the topic at a separate press conference on Wednesday afternoon. When asked why Ontario’s platform wasn’t launched sooner, Ford noted that Alberta’s system crashed on Wednesday—on its first day of operations—and that Quebec hasn’t administered a second dose of the vaccine so far.

As of 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, 602,848 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario and 251,590 people have received their second shots.

Canada will receive over 640,000 vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna this week (Ontario is receiving more than 230,000 doses of those vaccines)—the largest number of deliveries for Canada in a single week, and just a few weeks after reports of repeated delays and reductions of vaccine shipments.

On Wednesday, Ontario reported 1,054 new coronavirus cases—higher than the 975 infections reported on Tuesday; and slightly lower than the 1,058 cases reported on Monday and 1,087 cases reported on Sunday.

From Wednesday’s numbers, the following public health units reported more than 50 new cases: 363 cases were recorded in Toronto, 186 in Peel, 94 in York Region, 53 in Simcoe Muskoka, and 50 in Windsor-Essex.

Click here for more COVID-19 Ontario updates.

Article exclusive to TRNTO