The Ontario government has moved up second doses for those who got a COVID-19 shot in May while three more local public health units were added as hot spot areas where the Delta variant is of concern.
In new documents released Thursday, officials said Ontarians who got a first dose from May 10 to May 30, and are in a Delta hot spot, can book an earlier second shot starting Wednesday, June 23.
Three more local public health units — Hamilton, Simcoe-Muskoka and Durham Region — were added as Delta hot spots, joining Toronto, Halton, Peel, Porcupine, Waterloo, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and York.
Last week, Ontario announced that those in Delta hot spots were eligible to get an earlier second vaccine dose if they received a first shot on or before May 9. Starting on Monday, June 21 all Ontarians, regardless of being in a hot spot and who got a vaccination on or before May 9, can rebook for a second dose appointment.
Officials also said starting the week of June 28, all Ontario residents aged 18 and over who got a first dose of Pfizer or Moderna will be eligible to book a second shot. However, exact timing and days are still to be confirmed and the appointment must be at least 28 days after the first dose, the recommended interval.
As of June 17, 75 per cent of adult Ontarians have received at least one dose with more than 19 per cent of adults who are fully vaccinated with two shots.
Ontario has administered 11.9 million doses with more than 2.3 million people immunized with two shots. An average of 185,300 doses are being administered daily.
The province is expected to receive a few million more doses between Pfizer and Moderna by the end of June. A large amount of incoming vaccines are from Moderna.
When it comes to what people will receive as a second dose, officials said residents will likely learn which vaccine they will receive at the time of their appointment due to supply versus at the time of booking or what their first shot was.
“The best vaccine for your second dose is the vaccine that is available first,” officials noted in the documents. “If you had Moderna or Pfizer for your first dose you can safely take either Moderna or Pfizer for your second dose for strong protection.”
For those concerned about not getting the same brand the second time around, the government said mRNA’s can be mixed and matched.
“We will continue to communicate the strong message that the clinical table, that the advice from NACI, that Health Canada has said which is messenger-RNA’s are completely interchangeable,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said at a press conference Thursday.
“I understand that people initially felt if they had Pfizer at their first shot that they believe they needed Pfizer for their second. It’s simply not proven to be the case through science … because the science says mRNAs all of these vaccines are interchangeable,” Jones said.
For those who got a first dose of AstraZeneca, eligibility to get another AstraZeneca shot or Pfizer or Moderna was reduced to as early as eight weeks to 12 weeks.
“In general, longer intervals between vaccine doses result in stronger final immune response. The circulation of the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant of concern in some areas of Ontario, however, warrants consideration of a shorter interval,” the documents indicated.
For Ontario’s youth aged 12 to 17, more than 48 per cent have gotten at least one dose with second doses scheduled between Aug. 9 and 22. For seniors aged 70 and older, there is over 90 per cent first dose coverage with 39 to 59 per cent for second doses.