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Ontario opening vaccine eligibility to anyone 18 and up in COVID-19 hot spots

More than 100 postal codes have been identified as hot spots
April 8, 2021
Megan DeLaire

Adults aged 18 and older living in neighbourhoods hit hard by COVID-19 will soon be eligible for a vaccine, the province announced April 7.

In issuing a stay-at-home order and declaring Ontario's third state of emergency, the provincial government also announced its vaccine strategy is expanding to include people aged 18 and older in more than 100 postal codes linked to COVID-19 hot spot communities.

“hot The list of hot spot regions that will inform which adults over 18 will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine during the Phase 2 of the province’s vaccine rollout. -- Government of Ontario photo

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of Toronto and member of Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force, expressed hope that the expanded eligibility criteria will benefit a wide cross section of Ontarians.

"Anybody in Ontario who lives in a high-burden neighbourhood who is 18 years and older will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination," Bogoch said in a post to Twitter following the announcement. "This will help essential workers, families, communities, etc. (It is) a very smart move."

The province is working with local public health units to organize mobile vaccination teams, which will administer the vaccines in high-risk congregate settings, residential buildings, faith-based locations, community centres and locations occupied by large employers.

On April 7, the provincial government released a list of postal codes identified as hot spots in Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Niagara, Ottawa, Simcoe-Muskoka, Southwestern Ontario, Peel, Toronto, Waterloo, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, Windsor-Essex and York Region. The province confirmed April 8 that this list will guide the effort to vaccinate people aged 18 years and older.

While the Ministry of Health has not offered a timeline for these vaccinations, ministry spokesperson Ivana Yelich said local public health units can begin administering vaccines as soon as their mobile vaccination units are ready.

"We are working with public units and front-line health partners to urgently roll these mobile clinics out as quickly as possible," Yelich said.

The provincial government will also extend booking for COVID-19 vaccination appointments in hot spot neighbourhoods to more age groups through its provincial booking system. Beginning April 9, adults aged 50 and over will be eligible to book vaccination appointments at mass immunization clinics in high-risk areas as identified by postal code, using the provincial booking system.

For now, adults under 50 years of age in high-risk areas will only be served by mobile vaccination clinics once those clinics are active.

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