Ontario will send half its available COVID-19 vaccines to hot spots in the first two weeks of May to help fight the virus in those hard-hit regions.
That will be an increase from the current 25 per cent allocation for hot spots and follows a recommendation from the province’s science advisers to allocate shots based on transmission rate rather than age group.
The government says it will return to a per capita distribution for vaccines across the province on the week of May 17.
Officials say Ontario will also lower the age eligibility for mass vaccination clinics to 55 and older starting tomorrow.
Ontario expects to lower age eligibility for the vaccine throughout May, with access for aged 18 and older forecast to start on the week of May 24.
The government also says it will allow those with high-risk health conditions to get vaccinated at mass sites starting on Monday.
The changes come as the province expects to receive larger volumes of vaccines in May and June, with weekly shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot nearly doubling during that period.
Ontario is also starting a pilot project that will distribute the Pfizer vaccine through pharmacies in hot spots to people aged 55 and older.
That will start on Friday with eight pharmacies in Peel Region and eight in Toronto. The program is expected to expand to additional pharmacies and public health units in May, as supply allows.
Here’s a week-by-week breakdown of who will have access to the shot, when.
WEEK OF MAY 3
Ontario expects to receive 786,240 doses of the Pfizer vaccine — nearly double the size of the previous week’s shipment.
As of this week, 50 per cent of the vaccine supply will go to COVID-19 hot spots, and the remaining 50 per cent will be split between all public health units.
Across the province, the minimum age to receive the Pfizer and Moderna shots will lower to 50. In hot spots, those 18 and older will be eligible to book appointments for shots at mass vaccination clinics.
Adults with high-risk health conditions — such as obesity, developmental disabilities and treatments requiring immunosuppression — will also be eligible for shots provincewide.
A group of employees who cannot work from home — which includes food manufacturing workers and foster care workers — also become eligible.
WEEK OF MAY 10
The province anticipates a shipment of 787,410 Pfizer doses, and 388,100 Moderna doses.
For a second week in a row, half of shots will go to hot spots and the other half will be split between all public health units.
The minimum age to book a vaccination appointment lowers to 40 across the province.
Those 18 and over with at-risk health conditions, such as autoimmune disorders, liver disease, and cancer, will be able to make their appointments.
A second group of employees who can’t work from home also become eligible. That includes essential retail workers such grocery store employees, those who work in courts and the justice system, veterinarians and their teams, and transportation workers, among many others.
WEEK OF MAY 17
The province expects to receive 787,410 doses of the Pfizer shot for a second week in a row.
This week, vaccine distribution is set to return to a per capita basis.
The minimum age for vaccine eligibility lowers to 30.
WEEK OF MAY 24
The province anticipates a shipment of 788,580 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Vaccines are allocated based on population.
The minimum age to book a shot lowers to 18 across the province.
MAY 31 THROUGH JUNE 28
Each week, the province expects to receive between 938,340 and 939,510 Pfizer doses.
The province says it has administered more than five million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine so far.
Ontario reported 3,871 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 41 new deaths, a figure that pushed the province’s overall death toll from the virus past 8,000.
The ministry of health says 2,248 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 884 in intensive care and 620 on a ventilator.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 29, 2021.
The Canadian Press