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Province accelerating distribution of COVID-19 vaccine second doses this summer

Individuals over the age of 80 will start receiving a second dose on May 31 while Premier Doug Ford said based on supply, all Ontarians can be fully immunized by the end of August.
AstraZeneca Vaccine

TORONTO, Ont. - With vaccine supply remaining steady, the provincial government is expecting to reduce the interval between first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, starting with the most vulnerable members of the population.

Premier Doug Ford announced on Friday during a media briefing from Queen’s Park that individuals over the age of 80 will start receiving a second dose of the vaccine on Monday, May 31.

This will be followed by individuals over the age of 70 starting the week of June 14 and going forward, Ford said second dose eligibility will expand to others based on the date of the first dose.

“We want to ensure you are fully immunized as soon as possible. It means more protection from this horrible virus sooner. It means we can get back to doing the things we love and we can get one step closer to returning to normal,” Ford said.

“Based on what we know about upcoming shipments, everyone who wants a vaccine can be fully vaccinated by the end of August.”

But Ford added that it will depend on vaccine supply and he is urging the federal government to confirm increased deliveries throughout the summer.

Initially the time between receiving a first dose and a second dose was set at 16 weeks in order to provide a first dose to as many Ontarians as possible.

“As of today, we are ahead of the schedule we set,” Ford said. “With over 65 per cent of adults having received at least their first shot, we have now administered more than 8.5 million doses. Those are staggering figures.”

The province has already accelerated second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to a 12-week interval based on the date of the first shot.

AstraZeneca has been suspended as a first shot due to very rare instances of blood clots. The risk of developing a blood clot from a second dose is significantly reduced.

“Eligible individuals are encouraged to contact the pharmacy or primary care provider where they received their first dose to book an appointment,” the province said in a statement. “They might be redirected to a local pharmacy that is participating in administering second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

According to Dr. Janet DeMille, medical officer of health with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, there are currently no doses of AstraZeneca in the district, but she anticipates doses will be administered to allow the more than 2,000 individuals who received it as a first dose in the district to receive a second dose.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is also expected to provide guidance on administering two doses of different vaccines in the coming weeks.

Ornge will also be launching Operation Remote Immunity 2.0 starting on May 31 to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in 31 remote communities throughout Northern Ontario. The goal is to provide second doses to everyone over the age of 12 by the end of July. 

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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