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Coronavirus: Guelph area health unit already vaccinating seniors over 80

Click to play video: 'Ontario to launch COVID-19 vaccine appointment portal on March 15' Ontario to launch COVID-19 vaccine appointment portal on March 15
WATCH: Monday, March 15 -- that's when the head of Ontario's vaccine distribution task force says the province will launch an online appointment portal and when seniors 80 and older become eligible to book their first shot. – Feb 24, 2021

Guelph’s public health unit says it is already vaccinating residents over the age of 80 against COVID-19, despite the provincial officials saying that wouldn’t happen until the third week of March.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health says it is still following the provincial prioritization process but the agency appears to be ahead of schedule.

Read more: Ontario lays out COVID-19 vaccine timeline for seniors

Medical officer of health Dr. Nicola Mercer said they have completed vaccinations for residents and staff in all of the long-term care and retirement homes.

“We are nearing the completion of all highest risk health-care workers and have begun to immunize our seniors over the age of 80 at the same time as others in the provincial prioritization framework,” she said in an email.

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Ontario laid out its timeline for administering COVID-19 vaccines to seniors on Wednesday. It would see residents aged 80 and older receive shots starting March 15.

Those 75 and older should start getting immunized in mid-April, and those 70 and older at the start of May. Ontarians 65 and over will be next in June, and those 60 and older will start getting shots in July.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccine rollout could look different across Ontario health units: Solicitor General

“The dates provided by the province are targets and where we are able to exceed the provincial targets we will continue to do so ensuring that we continue to respect the provincial prioritization framework,” Dr. Mercer said.

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The province also announced bookings for vaccinations will be done online through a service desk, which will become available on March 15.

Click to play video: 'Pressure grows on provinces to keep up with demand for COVID-19 vaccinations' Pressure grows on provinces to keep up with demand for COVID-19 vaccinations
Pressure grows on provinces to keep up with demand for COVID-19 vaccinations – Feb 24, 2021

The health unit in Guelph has already launched its own online pre-registration portal for certain priority groups.

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Along with adults over age 80, those who can pre-register include Indigenous adults and health-care workers in hospitals, COVID-19 assessment centres, laboratories and congregate settings.

“The pre-registration is a positive step forward as our vaccine supply and our administration capacity expand to meet our goal of vaccinating at least 75 per cent of our region by August,” Mercer said.

Read more: Pandemic ‘likely’ to recede in summer, but health measures and limiting variants pivotal, officials say

As of Thursday, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health has administered 15,088 vaccines since its rollout began on Jan. 6.

The number of fully vaccinated individuals — those who have received two doses — is up to 6,372.

That’s 2.5 per cent of the eligible population in the jurisdiction who have been fully vaccinated.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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