2nd COVID-19 shots in Ontario to be accelerated, shorten dosage interval

WATCH ABOVE: Premier Doug Ford updates Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine plan on Friday.

The Ontario government says it is pushing forward with second COVID-19 vaccinations, due to a stable supply of vaccines, prioritizing those aged 80 and older first. Officials also said Ontarians will be fully vaccinated by the end of summer.

“Based on what we know about upcoming shipments, everyone in Ontario who wants a vaccine could be fully vaccinated by the end of August,” Premier Doug Ford said Friday.

“Ontario is ready to deliver a two-dose summer,” Ford said.

In documents released Friday, officials said second shots of Pfizer and Moderna can be done earlier based on the date of their first dose — a strategy they are calling “first-in, first-out.”

When it comes to the new dosage interval, Ontario officials said it could be as short as 28 days — meaning those eligible for an accelerated second dose appointment must have had their first shot at least 28 days prior, and likely only for those getting shots after May 31 to prioritize first doses.

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Ontario said people 80 years and older can start to reschedule for an earlier appointment starting Monday, May 31.

The 70 and older age band can book an earlier appointment beginning Monday, June 14.

Read more: York Region says it’s been given ‘heads up’ by Ontario to shorten 2nd dose interval

An overview of second dose booking eligibility. Government of Ontario

The dosage interval was extended in Ontario to be four months apart between first and second shots. However, some of the population such as long-term care and retirement residents, First Nations and high-risk health care workers and some high-risk individuals have already been eligible for a second shot.

Ontarians between the ages of 12 and 25 years old will become eligible for a second shot in early August, ahead of the start of school.

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The province has completed first doses for 65 per cent of the adult population, officials said. More than 8.6 million doses of vaccine have been administered and nearly 625,000 Ontarians are fully vaccinated with two shots.

Ontario expects to receive 4.7 million COVID-19 vaccines in June, the majority being Pfizer, with some Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Administering second doses will support the province’s “Roadmap to Reopen” which includes reaching a key threshold of 20 per cent of adults fully vaccinated for Step 2, officials said.

Read more: Toronto COVID-19 vaccine pop-up calls out entitlement, inequity after 2nd-dose seekers crash clinic

Options for booking a second dose include at mass immunization clinics, pop-up/mobile clinics, hospitals, or pharmacy and primary care.

For those who booked at a pop-up clinic — but did not have a date booked for a second shot — they have the option to make an appointment at any vaccination setting available when they are eligible for a second shot.

“You’re in the COVAX system, it has been recorded. Your date of your first dose has been recorded. When it is time for your second dose… you will be contacted,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said in reference to those who may have gone to a pop-up clinic for their first dose and did not receive a date for their second.

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Elliott said if eligibility opens up earlier to get a second dose sooner, a person can book for one.

Ontario said it is encouraging Ontarians to look at the provincial website, local public health unit websites, or participating pharmacies to look at options that are available for second shots.

Anyone who wants to get their second dose at a different setting than their first shot, will be able to choose another venue for their final vaccination, officials said.

Read more: COVID-19: Doug Ford defends not reopening Ontario schools, trying to get general ‘consensus’

AstraZeneca COVID-19 second doses

Ontario said second doses for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will continue at the 12-week interval, using the same method of “first-in, first-out.”

For those who received their first dose in mid-March (March 10 to March 19), an exception was made for them to be able to get their second shot at the 10-week mark due to expiring doses.

Officials said about three percent of AstraZeneca doses were spoiled, out of a stockpile of about 45,000 doses which expire on Monday and another 10,000 more set to expire at the end of June.

These doses will be available at participating pharmacies where there is supply.

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Current status of age groups and vaccination rates in Ontario as of May 27, 2021 at 8 p.m. Government of Ontario

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