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COVID-19: What Ontario’s shortened dosage interval means for London and Middlesex County

The Middlesex-London Health Unit says residents should "temper expectations" as the region is still dealing with a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

While news of the Ontario government shortening intervals between COVID-19 vaccine doses is a cause for celebration, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) says residents should “temper expectations” for when those intervals will be shortened locally.

On Friday, the province announced plans to push forward with second doses of the vaccines with priority given to those 80 and up.

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

Officials said the interval between doses could be as short as 28 days and that those 80 and up could start rescheduling their second shots on May 31.

Following the announcement, the MLHU said it remains unclear when local residents in that age band could start doing the same.

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Associate medical officer of health Dr. Alex Summers said the MLHU still has its focus on administering first doses of the vaccine to everyone who’s eligible in the region.

“We have to see really how the weekend goes with regards to when we’ll be able to allow those over the age of 80 to try and rebook a little bit sooner,” Summers said.

“It’s going to be sooner than later that we’ll be able to offer that here as well.”

Read more: COVID-19: Thousands of expiring AstraZeneca doses not yet sent to pharmacies, Ontario says

Summers said it’s important for residents to “temper expectations a little bit,” noting that the MLHU is still dealing with a limited supply of shots.

“(We) were not identified as a hot spot during the early stages of the vaccine rollout, which means that we got less vaccine per capita at the start,” Summers said.

While the MLHU has caught up to receiving the amount of vaccine supply it anticipated, it’s still behind other regions who received more shots early on. This explains why some regions may be able to start rescheduling second shots before others, Summers said.

“Even when we do open up eligibility for people to rebook, you may be finding that you’re not actually booking that much sooner than you thought you would because we’re still providing first doses to people,” Summers added.

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Read more: Moderna to deliver 2M more COVID-19 doses by mid June, Anand says

There is hope on the horizon for the region, with more vaccines set to arrive in Canada next month, which may trickle down to the MLHU.

The health unit plans on providing an update on when those 80 and up can start rescheduling their second shots once more information is available.

In the meantime, those already on the MLHU’s second-dose schedule are allowed to rebook over the phone at 226-289-3560. The rescheduling process cannot be done online at this time.

Click to play video: 'Ontario to shorten interval for 2nd COVID-19 dose for a two-dose summer: Doug Ford' Ontario to shorten interval for 2nd COVID-19 dose for a two-dose summer: Doug Ford
Ontario to shorten interval for 2nd COVID-19 dose for a two-dose summer: Doug Ford – May 28, 2021

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