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Ontario planning to vaccinate youth aged 12-17 by June, guidance on 2nd AstraZeneca shot coming
May 13, 2021
Lucas Casaletto

Ontario’s vaccine rollout is expanding at a steady pace as provincial health officials say the Ford government is working on a plan to begin vaccinating teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 starting in June.

With consistent vaccine shipments assumed by the end of the month, the Ford government anticipates around 65 percent of Ontarians aged 18-and-up will receive their first dose ahead of June.

Ontario’s Solicitor General reaffirmed on Tuesday that the province will be offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to people as young as 12 after that age group was approved for the shot by Health Canada.

Sylvia Jones says the province will check on the vaccine supply and consult with local health units before opening the shots to younger teens.

The update comes as the Ford government continues to mull over a possible return to in-person learning in areas with low rates of COVID-19. On Monday, Dr. David Williams said he wants to see schools re-open first, and “as soon as we can”; an opinion often echoed by Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Health Minister Christine Elliott confirmed Wednesday that 50 percent of eligible Ontarians have received their first shot as officials aim to meet their second dose commitments.

Officials reaffirm the plan is to open up vaccine appointments for every person 18 and older, regardless of postal code or hotspot setting, by May 24.

The province is also attempting to provide further clarity on the AstraZeneca vaccine; one day after Ontario’s top doctor announced they would stop administering first doses due to heightened risk of a blood clotting syndrome known as VITT.

In an update Wednesday, Ontario says it expects to receive more than 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine next week and will be reserving them for second shots.

It says today that it is still determining when it will start administering the second doses.

There have been at least eight cases in Ontario of the rare blood clotting syndrome linked to the AstraZeneca shot out of more than 901,800 doses given in the province.

None of the Ontario cases have been fatal.

Williams said Tuesday the province has seen an increase in VITT recently with provincial health officials confirming that the risk of developing the side effect has gone from one in 100,000 to one in 60,000.

Data from the United Kingdom “points to a significantly reduced risk of VITT in second doses of AstraZeneca” and the province continues to consider different options for the use of the vaccine for people awaiting their second shot, with Elliott saying guidance is expected shortly.

Health officials continue to stress that AstraZeneca recipients made the right decision, based on the advice available at the time, to get that vaccine.

Meantime, the Ford government continues to weigh the pros and cons of mixing two different vaccines in an effort to present people that may have already been treated with AstraZeneca with an alternative, such as an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna).

Alberta became the first Canadian province to cease administering its first doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine as it, too, looks at mixing shots.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended April 23 that people at low risk from COVID-19 wait to get vaccinated until they can access Pfizer or Moderna rather than get AstraZeneca immediately.

Vaccine shipments through May
Pfizer’s shipments haven’t changed since the last update as Ontario is expecting to receive 787,410 doses the week of May 17 followed by an increase of 788,580 the week of May 24.

From May 31 onward, the province should receive just under a million doses through June and into July.

Ontario is anticipating just over 400,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine next week.

As far as AstraZeneca, the Ford government says they’re prepared to secure 254,500 new and additional doses throughout the week of May 17 which will be allocated to people in need of a second shot.

Just over 115,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine are in the province with a delivery date currently pending.

Ontario pharmacy update
The province announced in late April that select pharmacy locations across 13 hotspot public health units would begin administering doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

On Wednesday, the Ford government announced that by next week it’s planning on further expanding that specific rollout as select pharmacies in all regions (non-hotspot) will begin vaccinations.

Then by the week of May 24 -- the same timeframe in which the province hopes to start treating anyone 18-and-up -- it will elongate vaccine doses to 2,490 pharmacies in Ontario.

Pharmacies will continue to use their own appointment for booking systems.

Approximately 650 pharmacies have begun administering Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this week and will grow to over 1,500 next week.