Ontario’s health minister says some residents will soon be able to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments at more than 300 pharmacies in three regions.
Christine Elliott said that the province is expecting to receive 190,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on Tuesday and added that eligible residents will be able to book appointments as of Friday to receive their shots.
The vaccines, some of which are set to expire in early April, are being distributed to pharmacies in Toronto, Windsor-Essex, and the Kingston area. That’s being done as part of a pilot project and Elliott said it will help ensure they are administered in a timely manner.
“This plan is ready to go and we’ll be receiving applications and online bookings as of Friday to start the work on these vaccines,” Elliott said in question period Tuesday.
Ontario said last week that it was following the advice of the national vaccine panel that recommended against using the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot on people aged 65 and older due to limited data on its effectiveness in seniors.
The shot will be given to adults aged 60 to 64.
A list of pharmacies that will be administering the vaccines is expected to be released Wednesday after distribution agreements are finalized, Elliott said.
“These vaccines will not be wasted,” she said.
“We will be able to deliver them before their expiry and we can quadruple the number of vaccinations that we’re doing per day in very short order but what we need are the large doses of the vaccines to come in.”
Elliott didn’t say Tuesday how eligible residents will go about booking an appointment to receive their AstraZeneca shot.
However, on Monday, Elliott said that people looking to book an appointment at a pharmacy will be able to do so through a central system. But the Ministry of Health later stated that individual pharmacies would use their own systems.
At least one pharmacy chain — Rexall — has set up its own waitlist for eligible residents.
A portion of the Oxford-AstraZeneca doses are also expected to go to primary care physicians who will administer them to their patients, the president of the Ontario Medical Association said, though doctors are still awaiting details on how that will work.
As of 8 p.m. Monday, 943,533 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Ontario, which marked an increase of 31,047 over 24 hours. So far, 276,193 people in the province are considered to be fully vaccinated.
— With files from The Canadian Press