Ontario speeds up second-dose eligibility, expands list of Delta hot spots (Updated)
On June 24, people who live in Delta hot spots and received a first dose on or before May 30 will be eligible to book
June 17 (2:10 pm): This post was updated to reflect changes in the second-dose booking schedule in Ontario.
Ontario has accelerated second-dose vaccine eligibility for Pfizer and Moderna again and is expanding the list of regions considered “Delta hot spots.”
The list of hot spots with fast-transmitting Delta COVID-19 variant now includes Simcoe-Muskoka, Hamilton and Durham Region. Other Delta hot spots are Toronto, Peel Region, Waterloo, Porcupine, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, Halton and York.
As of June 21, anyone in Ontario who received a first shot of mRNA vaccine on or before May 9 can book or rebook their second appointment using the provincial system.
Then, on June 23, second shots will be available to book or rebook for anyone in the 10 Delta hot spots who received their first dose of mRNA vaccines on or before May 30.
All people in Ontario aged 18 and over who received a first dose of Pfizer or Moderna will be eligible to book their second dose appointment on June 28.
Earlier this week, the province’s COVID-19 science table said the Delta variant, which is 50 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, accounts for nearly half of Ontario’s COVID-19 cases.
Overall, case daily new numbers have declined to levels not seen since last September. To date, nearly 65 per cent of all people in the province have received one dose and more than 16 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Previous updates to this story are below:
Doug Ford is seeing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise of a one-dose summer and raising him one more. The Ontario Premier promised to deliver a “two-dose summer” and sped up the province’s second-dose vaccination strategy.
He has promised everyone who wants a second shot will have a chance to get one by the end of summer.
Passive-aggressive Canadian political rhetoric aside, getting a second shot isn’t completely straightforward thanks to the variety of places Ontarians are receiving their first dose – pop-up clinics, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, hospital clinics and mass immunization sites.
Further complicating matters are the differing second-dose intervals for the different types of vaccines, as well as new guidance from the federal provincial governments allowing people who received a first shot of AstraZeneca to get jabbed with one of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) the second time around.
What is key to note in Ontario’s vaccination plan: if you are age 69 and under, Ontario is using a “first in, first out” approach to scheduling second shots.
On June 10, the province accelerated second-dose rebooking eligibility in hot spots where the Delta variant is a concern, including Toronto and Peel. The Delta variant is 50 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant, and will become the dominant strain of the virus in Ontario this summer.
Two days later on June 12, the government shortened the interval for second shots of AstraZeneca from 12 weeks to eight weeks with “informed consent.”
“This decision is based on emerging clinical evidence about the administration of two doses of different vaccines, as supported by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI),” the province said in a statement.
“Evidence from multiple studies indicates that mixing of COVID-19 vaccines (receiving an mRNA vaccine after an AstraZeneca vaccine) at dosing intervals between eight and 12 weeks is safe and demonstrates a beneficial immune response,” the statement continues. “There is evidence that a longer interval between two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine (such as a 12-week interval) provides higher protection.”
What is the second-dose schedule?
The province has announced an accelerated second-dose scheduled targeted at hot-spot regions, including Toronto and Peel, where the highly transmissible Delta variant is spreading. The province had already accelerated the originally announced second-dose schedule based on an increase in supply of Moderna and Pfizer doses in June and July.
Here are confirmed eligibility dates to book using the provincial system:
- Week of May 31: People aged 80+;
- June 7 at 8 am: People aged 70+ and people who received their first dose on or before April 18, 2021;
- June 14 at 8 am: People who live in “Delta hot spots” in Halton, Peel, Porcupine, Toronto, Waterloo, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and York public health units and who also received their first dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) on or before May 9, 2021.
- June 14 at 8 am: People who received a first dose of AstraZeneca become eligible to book a second dose at an eight-week interval of either the same shot or an mRNA vaccine.
- June 21, 2021 at 8 am: All Ontarians who received their first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine on or before May 9, 2021 will be eligible to book or rebook their second dose appointment at a shortened interval.
- June 23, 2021 at 8 am: Individuals who received their first dose of an mRNA vaccine on or before May 30, 2021 and who live in the catchment area of one of the 10 public health units identified as Delta hot spots (Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Peel, Porcupine, Simcoe-Muskoka, Toronto, Waterloo, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, and York public health units) will be eligible to book or rebook their second dose appointment at a shortened interval.
- June 28, 2021 (days / sequence to be confirmed): All Ontarians aged 18 and over who have received their first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine will be eligible to book their second dose appointment. The appointment will be scheduled at least 28 days after the first dose, per the recommended interval.
Here are anticipated eligibility dates, which the province hopes to accelerate pending vaccine shipment timelines from the federal government:
- August 9 and 16: People aged 12 to 25
How to book an appointment
To determine how to book, visit the provincial government’s booking system and fill out the questionnaire asking for the date of your first shot, your postal code, your year of birth and any high-risk categories you may fall into.
People who live in Toronto must use the online provincial booking system or call 1-833-943-3900 to make an appointment. You can also book via a pharmacy. Here is the list of pharmacies offering vaccination clinics.
What high-risk groups are eligible at shorter intervals?
You may be able get a second dose of mRNA vaccine in a shorter period than the recommended four-week interval if you live in a:
- long-term care home
- retirement home
- Elder Care Lodge
- assisted living facilities
- had an organ or stem cell transplant
- are being treated for cancer that affects your blood, bone marrow or lymph nodes (a haematological malignancy) or a malignant solid tumor
- are a dialysis patient
- are taking certain immunosuppressive medications (anti-CD20 agents, such as rituximab, ocrelizumab or ofatumumab)
- are a high-risk health-care worker
- identify as First Nations, Inuit or Métis
What are the rules for AstraZeneca?
If your first shot was the AstraZeneca vaccine, you can choose to receive either a second dose of AstraZeneca or one of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna).
You are eligible receive the second dose at least 12 weeks after the date of your first. You can book a second shot at the pharmacy or primary care provider where you received the first dose – or at any pharmacy.
If you would like to receive Pfizer or Moderna for your second dose, you can schedule an appointment at a pharmacy offering those vaccines or at a city-run immunization via the provincial booking system.
Mixing Pfizer or Moderna is possible
If you received Moderna or Pfizer for your first shot, you should try to receive the same one for the second. You can safely receive a shot of the other one on your second dose if the original vaccine you got is not readily available.
What if I already booked a second appointment?
If you received a first shot at a mass immunization site, your second shot was automatically booked 16 weeks later. You can rebook your second appointment using the provincial system once you become eligible and your previously booked appointment will automatically be cancelled.
If you already have a second appointment booked at a pop-up location where you received your first shot, you will be able to book elsewhere. The province will release more information on when and how rebooking will be available.
If you rebook for a mass immunization site via the provincial system and already have a second appointment booked via a different location, be sure to cancel that appointment.
Will there be pop-up clinics for second doses?
Mobile, pop-ups and employer-led clinics that administered first doses in Peel, Toronto and York public health regions will begin operating second-dose clinics during the week of June 20, 2021. “Increasing first and second dose coverage in Delta hot spots will help to minimize the risk of the variant’s spread in Ontario, protecting all neighbourhoods provincewide,” the province said in statement.
What do I need to bring to my second appointment?
- Your Ontario health (OHIP) card or other form of identification
- Your booking confirmation code (if you received one when you made your appointment)
- A face covering or mask (to be worn at all times)
- Any assistive or accessibility devices that you need
Wear comfortable and loose fitting clothing. You can also bring water and one support person, if needed.
What if I have an old red-and-white OHIP card?
Call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 to book an appointment.
Are there side effects?
Similar to other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines can cause mild side effects and reactions that last hours or days. Common side effects include redness, soreness or swelling on the arm where you received the shot; tiredness; headache; muscle and joint pain; chills; and mild fever.
If you think you are having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, call 911. If you develop any of the following symptoms within three days of getting the shot, call your doctor or health-care practitioner:
- swelling of the face or mouth
- trouble breathing
- very pale colour and serious drowsiness
- high fever (over 40°C)
- convulsions or seizures
- other serious symptoms, such as numbness
Visit the provincial vaccination website or the city of Toronto’s website to find out what to expect during and after your appointment.
For more up-to-the-minute updates on specific locations offering vaccinations to eligible groups in Ontario and beyond, check the Twitter account Vaccine Hunters Canada.