By ALI RAZA, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Just after announcing an “emergency brake” shutdown for April, the Province of Ontario has entered Phase 2 of its COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
It means adults aged 60 and older can get the shot, and they can do so at several vaccination clinics across Toronto.
In addition, vaccinations are also being administered to people who live and work in high-risk congregate settings, caregivers, essential frontline workers (in some cases), individuals with high-risk chronic conditions, essential caregivers, and communities at greater risks, all part of Ontario’s Phase 2.
The province is administering three types of vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca. All have been approved for use by Health Canada.
However, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for residents under the age of 55 due to a rare risk of blood clotting among younger populations observed in Europe. Health Canada says the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.
Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliot received a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 29 at a Toronto pharmacy as a demonstration of its safety. AstraZeneca is being administered at several East Toronto pharmacies in collaboration with the province.
To get vaccinated for COVID-19, East Toronto residents can book their appointments on one of three online booking systems through the province, the city, or East Toronto Health Partners.
Residents who are 55 and older seeking the AstraZeneca vaccine can contact participating pharmacies to call and book an appointment.
As of the morning of April 5, a total of 594,204 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Toronto.
The City of Toronto is presently operating six mass immunization clinics located at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto Congress Centre, Scarborough Town Centre, Malvern Community Recreation Centre, Mitchell Field Arena in North York and The Hangar in Downsview.
In East Toronto, residents can get the shot at clinics at Michael Garron Hospital, Warden Hilltop Community Centre, Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre, and East York Town Centre.
In Scarborough, vaccination clinics are operating at Scarborough Town Centre, Centennial College Progress Campus, or SHN Centenary Hospital.
The province announced that 81 per cent of Ontario residents aged 80 or over have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and more than half of residents aged 75 to 70 have received their first shot.
COVID-19 vaccinations require two shots, which are being spread out to administer as many first dose shots as possible as a result of the limited vaccine supply.
Canada has not vaccinated its population at the same pace as the United States or the United Kingdom due to a lack of supply, but more vaccines are arriving and the pace is speeding up.
In March, Ontario received 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, 323,000 doses of Moderna, and 194,500 doses of AstraZeneca. In April, the province expects to receive 1.5 million additional doses of Pfizer and 751,000 of Moderna. On April 1, it received 583,400 doses of AstraZeneca.
In Phase 2, the province announced this week it has placed trauma surgeon and Ornge Air Ambulance president and CEO Dr. Homer Tien in charge of the vaccine distribution task force.
STEPS TO GETTING VACCINATED IN EAST TORONTO AND SCARBOROUGH
Step 1 – As of April 5, the following residents are eligible:
• Adults 60 to 79
• People who live or work in high-risk congregate settings
• Essential frontline workers
• Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions
• Hotspot communities with greater risks
If you’re 55 or older 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 you live in East Toronto, you can book an appointment with the Toronto East Health Network at https://tehn.ca/covid19/covid-19-vaccine
If you live in Scarborough, you can book an appointment at https://scarboroughcovidvaccineclinic.ca
Step 3 – Wait to be contacted with your appointment date and time.
In East Toronto, the vaccination will likely be at Michael Garron Hospital, Warden Hilltop Community Centre, or Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre. In Scarborough, it will likely be at 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.