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Ontario residents 80-plus can start booking 2nd COVID-19 vaccine appointments

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TORONTO — Ontarians aged 80 and older became eligible to book their second COVID-19 vaccine doses on Monday, though some regions warned residents of a longer wait due to lack of supply.

The government announced last week that it was shortening the intervals between doses, starting with the 80 and older cohort, but left it up to individuals to schedule earlier shots.

Some said they were able to quickly rebook appointments for their loved ones on Monday morning.

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

Karthik Kanagas said he was able to move his father’s second dose up to Wednesday _ far earlier than the original appointment booked for July at a Toronto clinic.

“He’s incredibly relieved,” Kanagas said. “He’s looking forward to having a little bit of freedom of mobility again, to go grocery shopping and do those little things.”

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Mo Saeed was able to reschedule a second dose for his 80-year-old father-in-law, moving up the shot by six weeks.

“He’s excited to be getting it sooner,” said Saeed, adding that he would have preferred if his father-in-law had received an email or call about rescheduling.

Read more: Ontario government begins process of replacing chief medical officer of health

The government has been criticized for not having a plan to contact recipients directly to move up second doses. Residents will keep their original second-dose appointments — four months from the first — if they don’t book an earlier shot.

Not all health units were able to start offering earlier second doses to the 80 and older cohort.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit said vaccine supply challenges meant it would offer earlier second shots to that group starting June 7, though possibly sooner, as it prioritized first shots.

The health unit covering Sudbury, Ont., said second shots for the oldest seniors would likely become available the week of June 28, based on known supply and plans to prioritize youth for first shots.

Read more: Ontario reports under 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for first time in nearly 3 months

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Lynne Witty said she was disappointed after calling pharmacies and the Sudbury health unit on Monday in an attempt to speed up her 87-year-old mother’s second vaccine appointment.

“It’s frustrating because she hasn’t been able to visit with family, so she’s been housebound since this all started,” Witty said.

Thunder Bay’s health unit asked people not to show up at clinics without booking first. In Ottawa, technical difficulties thwarted those trying to book shots.

Those 70 and older will see their dose interval shortened in mid-June, and after that, residents will become eligible for second doses based on when they received their first shot.

The expanded vaccine effort came as Ontario reported 916 cases of COVID-19 Monday _ its lowest daily total since Feb. 17 _ and 13 more deaths. The new cases were based on 18,200 tests.

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