Toronto becomes the first public health unit in Canada to administer more than one million vaccine doses
4 pm Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sohpie Gregoire Trudeau, received their first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a pharmacy near Parliament Hill in Ottawa this afternoon.
“I’m very excited,” Trudeau said before getting vaxxed on his left arm where he has a tattoo of a Haida raven.
Ontario lowered the age of eligibility for the AstraZeneca vaccine to 40 earlier this week. Trudeau is 49.
“If you’re eligible for your vaccine like we are, make sure you get your dose as soon as possible,” Trudeau told reporters today.
The PM received the shot as the National Post reported that Canada received a shipment of AstraZeneca doses from a Baltimore plant that’s under fire from U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials over quality-control issues and unsanitary conditions.
American regulators have said they will not allow any vaccines made under contract at Emergent Biosolutions to be released. The Post reports that AstraZeneca has assured Canada that a contamination event the plant did not impact 1.5 million doses shipped here and distributed the week of April 5.
3:30 pm The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is now recommending the AstraZeneca vaccine be given to people age 30 and up “if the individual does not wish to wait for an mRNA vaccine and the benefits outweigh the risk,” according to updated guidance.
NACI previously advised that AstraZeneca be given to people age 55 and up after reports of rare blood clots following vaccination in Europe. Canada has since confirmed four cases of blood clotting in people who have received the shot, including the first case in Ontario today.
After doing a safety assessment, Health Canada said on April 14 that the benefits of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks and adjusted the vaccine’s labeling with the latest scientific data.
“NACI recognizes that public health benefit-risk analyses for the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine may vary between jurisdictions based on factors such as local COVID-19 epidemiology; local vaccine supply and logistics; and equity and acceptability considerations,” the panel said in its new guidance. “These factors will change over time.”
The panel’s new guidance is informed by the chances of developing and dying from the rare blood clot condition compared to COVID-19 ICU admissions and deaths that could be prevented by an early dose. It also considered Canada’s rapidly changing epidemiology, including the circulation of variants of concern and hot spot areas, as well as “a comprehensive analysis of ethics, equity, feasibility and accessibility.”
11:30 am Ontario is reporting 4,505 new COVID-19 cases and 34 additional deaths on April 23.
The province detected 3,682 new cases on Thursday, 4,212 on Wednesday and 3,469 on Tuesday. The seven-day rolling average is at 4,132.
Ontario administered an additional 133,872 doses in the past 24 hours, bringing the provincial total to 4,400,674 doses administered and 355,208 people fully vaccinated.
The province completed 56,206 tests in the past 24 hours, marking an eight per cent positivity rate.
Active cases and hospitalizations both decreased slightly from 41,962 to 41,735 and from 2,350 to 2,287. However, patients in intensive care continue to increase, setting new record highs every day and reaching 818 patients today.
Of the deaths reported today, one was someone between the ages of 20 and 39 and five were people between the ages of 40 and 59.
Variants of concern are picking up speed, with six additional confirmed P1 cases, 21 confirmed B1351 cases and almost 3,000 B117 cases.
There have been 437,310 total COVID-19 cases in Ontario so far and 7,863 deaths.
10:30 am Ontario’s top doctor has confirmed the province’s first case of AstraZeneca-related blood clotting.
The condition, known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), is considered extremely rare.
“The patient is a male in his 60s who had received his first dose of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine,” Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams said in a statement on Friday morning. “The patient has received treatment and is recovering at home. Additional details will not be publicly released to protect the patient’s privacy.”
This is the fourth case of VITT out of more than 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine administered in Canada to date.
Based on evidence, Williams says the vaccine’s benefits – preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death – outweigh the risks.
Health Canada reported the first case of rare blood clotting related to the AstraZeneca vaccine on April 13. The federal regulator has said all vaccines approved for use in the country are safe and effective.
Ontario recently lowered the age of eligibility for AstraZeneca to 40 in a bid to ramp up vaccinations as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise to record highs during the third wave.
“While these serious reactions remain extremely rare, we have a robust process in place to monitor for any adverse events and have taken steps to ensure that these events are identified and treated as quickly as possible,” Williams said.
9:30 am The city will once again paint physical distancing circles on the grass in Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Officials painted the circles to encourage people to keep apart last year after photos and videos of hundreds of people gathering in the west-end park made national headlines.
“While there is currently a province-wide Stay-at-Home order in effect, the City recognizes that many residents living in apartment buildings and condominiums who do not have yards need spaces to get exercise and fresh air in City parks,” the city said in a statement. “Trinity Bellwoods Park is a popular location for many downtown residents and the painted physical distancing circles will help keep people safe while using the park.”
The circles will be installed next week depending on weather conditions.
Under the stay-at-home order, people should stay home except for essential reasons such as getting groceries, exercise, going to a medical appointment, doing essential work, getting a vaccine and exercising. Outdoor gatherings are restricted to people who live in the same household and people who live alone can join one other household.
9:20 am Pregnant people are now eligible for vaccinations in Ontario under the highest-risk category in Phase 2 of the vaccination plan.
In a statement, Health Minister Christine Elliott’s office said the decision was based on “emerging data on the increased risk of severe illness for pregnant women.”
All pregnant individuals in Toronto are now able to book vaccine appointments using the provincial booking system to be vaccinated at city-run immunization sites. The minister’s office said a letter from a health-care provider is not required and the dose interval between first and second shots is 16 weeks.
Official guidance documents will be updated in the coming days, the statement said.
As of April 23, all pregnant individuals can register for #COVID19 vaccination appointments under the “highest risk” health conditions in Phase Two of the province’s vaccine rollout. pic.twitter.com/hS6jL4E84y— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) April 23, 2021
9:15 am Toronto has become the first public health unit in Canada to administer more than one million COVID-19 vaccine doses.
As of this morning, the city had administered 1,004,339 doses via health-care partners, pharmacies and municipal immunization sites.
Yesterday alone, pharmacies gave 183,945 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 40 and older. The province lowered the eligibility age for AstraZeneca to 40 earlier this week, and since then pharmacies have seen a spike in people booking appointments.
People age 18 and up are eligible to be vaccinated by mobile and pop-up clinics serving hot spot areas. The city is also stepping up vaccinations in 13 of the “hottest” hot spot postal codes and opening up more than 231,000 appointments via city-run clinics in early May.
Thanks to everyone on #TeamToronto who has worked to administer more than 1 million #COVID19 vaccine doses.— John Tory (@JohnTory) April 23, 2021
Thank you as well to all the Toronto residents who have already stepped forward to get vaccinated. The work to get more and more people vaccinated continues. pic.twitter.com/IqLbcxacld
The following regions reported five or more new COVID-19 cases:
Toronto = 1,257
Peel = 1,232
York Region = 412
Ottawa = 247
Durham Region = 224
Niagara Region = 179
Halton Region = 144
City of Hamilton = 135
Simcoe Muskoka District = 96
Middlesex-London = 96
Region of Waterloo = 83
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 66
Windsor-Essex County = 65
Brant County = 58
Eastern Ontario = 25
Haldimand-Norfolk = 22
Lambton = 19
Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge = 16
Thunder Bay District = 15
Porcupine = 15
Northwestern = 13
Southwestern = 13
Hastings Prince Edward = 12
Chatham-Kent = 12
Sudbury & Districts = 11
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District = 11
Peterborough = 9
Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington = 8
Grey Bruce = 5