COVID-19: Toronto vaccine strategy to begin targeting Delta variant hotspots

Click to play video: 'City of Toronto launches VaxTO program aimed at easing access to COVID-19 vaccine appointments' City of Toronto launches VaxTO program aimed at easing access to COVID-19 vaccine appointments
WATCH ABOVE: While some people have received a first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, officials and medical experts know many are still having trouble getting access. As Katherine Ward reports, the City of Toronto has launched a new program aimed at making that access as easy as possible – May 26, 2021

The City of Toronto says its vaccine “Sprint Strategy” will shift to focus on hotspot neighbourhoods where the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant has been found.

The new strategy begins Thursday and will see mobile and pop-up clinics set up for both first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses in 18 designated areas.

According to a release from the City on Thursday, the Delta variant (originally identified in India) has become more infectious than other COVID-19 strains, including the Alpha (B.1.1.7 – originally identified in the U.K.) variant.

“Recent studies have shown that two weeks after the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, an individual’s protection against the Delta variant is 50 per cent higher than one dose alone,” the release said.

Read more: Ontario reports 590 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths

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All adults living in the 18 highlighted postal code areas who have not received their first dose, will be encouraged to do so.

Furthermore, all residents living, working or attending school in the areas will be allowed to receive their second dose, as long as its in the “appropriate minimum interval following federal and provincial frameworks,” the City said.

The 18 postal codes being focused on are as follows:

• M9W
• M9V
• M6M
• M9L
• M9M
• M3J
• M3K
• M3M
• M3N
• M6N
• M3L
• M9N
• M1G
• M1B
• M1S
• M1J
• M4H
• M4A

Toronto Public Health estimated there are 157,000 unvaccinated people aged 18 years and older in the above areas.

“We are continuing to follow the public health data and expert advice to make sure we are doing everything we can to get vaccine doses to where it will make the biggest difference in our fight against COVID-19 and the Delta variant,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory.

Ontario is set to update its vaccine rollout plan early Thursday afternoon. Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones will be providing the news from Queen’s Park at 1 p.m.

Read more: Ontario to present new COVID-19 projections ahead of reopening, update on vaccine rollout

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As of 8 p.m. on Wednesday, more than 10.6 million total COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered. That marked an increase of 182,350 vaccines (65,250 for a first shot and 117,100 for a second shot) in the last day. There are now nearly 1.4 million people fully vaccinated with two doses.

With files from Gabby Rodrigues

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