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65% of those 18+ in Ontario expected to have 1st COVID-19 vaccine dose by end of May: officials

Click to play video: 'Ontario further expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to individuals 50+: Minister Elliott' Ontario further expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to individuals 50+: Minister Elliott
Ontario further expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to individuals 50+: Minister Elliott – May 5, 2021

Ontario is on track to administer first COVID-19 vaccine doses to 65 per cent of residents aged 18 and older by the end of May, officials say.

Officials provided an update on the province’s vaccine rollout Wednesday, and said 43 per cent of all adults have already received at least one shot.

“The light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter with every vaccine administered and together we can stop the spread of COVID-19,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said, adding that until most are fully vaccinated, health measures must continue to be followed.

The province is slated to receive more than 780,000 Pfizer doses each week in May, with that increasing to more than 930,000 the week of May 31.

Read more: NACI recommends Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shot for adults 30 and up, says mRNA preferred

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On Thursday, Ontario is set to receive 388,100 Moderna doses.

There is still no word on further shipments of AstraZeneca, and while the province is set to receive 116,100 Johnson & Johnson doses, the delivery date for those shots is still pending.

Officials said the province is also in the process of reviewing a recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization that the Johnson & Johnson shots be offered to those aged 30 and older. A decision on how those shots will be rolled out in the province is expected in the coming days.

The province is continuing with its schedule to drop age eligibility requirements to receive a vaccine each week in May, eventually reaching 18+ provincewide by the week of May 24.

Click to play video: 'Ontario to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine rollout for teachers, students' Ontario to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine rollout for teachers, students
Ontario to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine rollout for teachers, students – May 5, 2021

As of Monday, those 18+ in hot spots became eligible to book a shot and on Thursday, people aged 50+ and a group of workers who cannot work from home will be eligible to book their appointment provincewide.

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That group of workers includes all elementary and secondary school workers, child-care workers, food and manufacturing workers, and agriculture and farm workers.

Officials said planning is underway after Health Canada announced Wednesday that Pfizer has been approved for those 12 and older. A date wasn’t provided for when that age group would be eligible to receive a shot, though Elliott did provide some information on a possible timeline.

Read more: Here’s a weekly breakdown of when people will have access to COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario

“The plan would be to start the vaccinations in schools — the first dose — and then have the second dose administered before a return to school date in September,” she said.

Meanwhile, Moderna doses are expected to be offered in up to 60 pharmacies in hot spots in Durham Region, York Region, Hamilton, Ottawa, and Windsor-Essex this week, with further expansion throughout May.

Last week, 16 pharmacies in Peel Region and Toronto began administering Pfizer doses. Each pharmacy received 150 doses each and as of Tuesday, 99 per cent of doses had been administered, officials said. Expansion of Pfizer in pharmacies is also expected through May.

Read more: Thousands of Ontarians book COVID-19 vaccine appointments within hours of expanded eligibility

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The government also said it has now scheduled 10 employer-led vaccination clinics in the coming weeks including with the Ontario Food Terminal, Walmart Canada, and Loblaws.

The province said it is also launching mobile vaccine units that will start visiting small- and medium-sized workplaces in Toronto, Peel and York Region on Friday.

As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, the province had administered a total of 5,599,723 COVID-19 vaccine doses, marking an increase of 132,603 over the past day.

So far, 381,123 people in the province are considered to be fully vaccinated.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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