By ALI RAZA, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccinations against the virus are increasing in pace in Toronto.
As of March 12, there have been 226,130 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Toronto.
The city will begin reporting the number of immunized residents and appointments in the previous day beginning on March 17.
But given the immunization campaign involves three levels of governments working in conjunction with several public health units and organizations, Beach Metro News will attempt to make some sense of it all for East Toronto residents seeking to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
It starts at the top, where the federal government has approved four vaccines for distribution: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Janssen. All have been approved by Health Canada and are currently being distributed across Canada through provinces and municipalities.
In his weekly update to constituents, Beaches-East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith said so far 4.5 million doses have been received, with another 3.5 million doses expected by the end of the month, and an anticipated 36 million doses by end of June.
There are also federal investments of millions of dollars into rebuilding domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity, he added.
The province is tasked in distributing the vaccines, which it is doing in a three-phase plan to prioritize vaccines for those at greatest risk of severe illness.
From December 2020 to March 2021, the province will distribute vaccines in Phase 1, it includes staff, essential caregivers and residents of long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes, and First Nations elder care homes.
It also includes health care workers, all Indigenous adults, all adult chronic home care recipients, and all remaining adults over 80 years of age.
In Phase 2, expected to run from April 2021 to July 2021, adults aged 60 to 79, adults in high-risk congregate settings like shelters and community living, individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers, individuals who cannot work from home, and other at-risk populations are eligible for vaccination.
In Phase 3, expected to be July 2021 and beyond, all remaining Ontarians are eligible for vaccination.
Vaccines are being administered to residents in municipalities via their public health units.
In Toronto, vaccines are administered in a cooperative effort between the city, Toronto Public Health, local health networks, hospitals, pharmacies, community health care centres, and organizations.
As a resident of East Toronto or surrounding area, to get a vaccine you must first check if you’re eligible based on the above criteria. As of March 12, only seniors living in congregate settings, health care workers, Indigenous adults, chronic home care recipients, and adults over 80 are currently eligible.
The second step is to pre-register with clinics so an appointment can be set up. To pre-register, residents can register with the city or Toronto East Health Network through an online booking system or call centre. The province will also have an online booking system and call centre available starting March 15 which will work with the city/TEHN’s system – so there are plenty of places to pre-register.
Vaccines are administered primarily at three city-operated mass immunization clinics: Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Scarborough Town Centre, and Toronto Congress Centre. But they’re also available at local health clinics, mobile clinics, hospitals, and some pharmacies.
For East Toronto, vaccinations are administered currently at Michael Garron Hospital and Warden Hilltop Community Centre. A clinic is expected to open on March 16 at the Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre.
Other clinics in East Toronto administering vaccines include Anishnawbe Health Toronto (for Indigenous adults and those with chronic illnesses) and Scarborough Health Network’s locations at Centennial College Progress Campus and Centenary Hospital.
Clinics operate by appointment only.
After pre-registering, residents will be contacted to book their appointment for the first dose, and book their second appointment after that.
Additionally, as an exception to its three phase system, the province is allowing vaccinations of residents aged 60 to 64 to get the single dose AstraZeneca vaccine at participating Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall, and Costco pharmacies in Toronto, Kingston, and Windsor.
While this information is expected to change as the province and city continue its vaccine rollout, here’s a general guide to getting vaccinated if you live in East Toronto or Scarborough.
STEPS TO GETTING VACCINATED IN EAST TORONTO AND SCARBOROUGH:
Check if you’re eligible based on the province’s three-phase rollout, visit https://bit.ly/30A4dQG to find out. As of March 12, only the following residents are eligible as of Phase 1:
– Seniors and staff in congregate living
– Health care workers
– Indigenous adults
– Chronic home care recipients
– Adults 80+
If you’re between 60 and 64 and would like to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, you can visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations to book an appointment with the nearest eligible pharmacy
If eligible, pre-register through the city at https://vaccineto.ca. If you live in East Toronto, you can also pre-register with Toronto East Health Network at https://bit.ly/2OLAZMf. If you live in Scarborough, you can also pre-register at https://scarboroughcovidvaccineclinic.ca
If you’d like to phone in, you can contact the call centre at 1-888-385-1910
Wait to be contacted when you’re eligible for your vaccine or to book your vaccination appointment at a clinic near you.
In East Toronto, it will likely be at Michael Garron Hospital, Warden Hilltop Community Centre, or Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre. In Scarborough, it will likely be Scarborough Town Centre, Centennial College Progress Campus or SHN Centenary Hospital.
Ali Raza is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.