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Ontario to accelerate rollout of second doses of COVID-19 vaccine

(Metro Creative image)

Province says 65 per cent of adults have received first doses, ahead of schedule

TORONTO – The Ontario government says it has reached its target of administering first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to 65 per cent of adults ahead of schedule.

And starting Monday, May 31, the province is moving ahead with second dose appointments, starting with Ontarians over 80 years old.

In addition, the Ontario government expects that the majority of residents who choose to receive the vaccine will be able to be fully vaccinated by the end of summer, dependent on vaccine supply.

“Having made so much progress administering first doses, we are now in a position to begin delivering second doses for a two-dose summer,” said Premier Doug Ford in a press release on May 28.

“If we receive more vaccines from the federal government, we’ll be able to accelerate our rollout further to offer more protection to Ontarians even sooner.”

As of Friday, more than 8.6 million doses of the vaccine have been administered. More than eight million people have received at least one dose.

“Accelerating second doses will provide more protection to Ontarians sooner. Every dose administered means we are one step closer to the end of the pandemic, and I encourage all Ontarians to get vaccinated and continue following public health advice,” said health minister Christine Elliott.

Second doses will be scheduled based on a “first in, first out” strategy, meaning residents can accelerate their second dose appointment based on the date they received their first dose.

Residents over the age of 80 can start booking their second dose appointment on Monday, May 31.

Residents between the ages of 70 and 79 will be able to book their second dose appointment starting the week of June 14. Second dose appointment booking will then expand to other residents based on when they received their first dose.

The timing of second dose appointments may vary based on local considerations, vaccine supply and the date of the first dose appointment.

The province says those eligible to book their second dose appointment may do so through the provincial booking system or pharmacies. Second dose appointments can also be booked (without a first appointment) in the provincial booking system.

For those in public health units who use their own booking system, or who received their doses from their primary care provider or through a pop-up clinic, more information will follow on how and when second dose booking and rebooking will be available.

Due to the “significant progress” of first doses of vaccinations being administered, the Ontario government says the provincial declaration of emergency and stay-at-home order will expire on June 2. However, the “emergency brake” will remain in effect, with public health measures and restrictions still in place, until the province is ready to enter Step One of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen.

Step One may begin as early as two weeks after 60 per cent of Ontario’s adults receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and if key indicators, such as the risk of COVID-19 variants, hospitalizations, ICU occupancy and new hospital admissions and case rates continue to decline.

Based on current trends, it is expected that the province will enter Step One the week of June 14.