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Nurse Mandeep Kaur administers a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to health administrator, Brittany Orantes, at a vaccination centre as part of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, in Brampton, Ont., March 4, 2021.

CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

Ontario is speeding up second doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with those 80 and over eligible to book next week, as the majority of residents are expected to be fully vaccinated by the end of the summer.

But people will be responsible for rebooking their own appointments, and there is no guarantee they’ll receive an earlier spot, health officials said Friday.

Premier Doug Ford said Ontario is now ahead of schedule in its vaccine rollout, with 65 per cent of adults having already received a first dose.

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“Based on what we know about upcoming shipments, everyone who wants a vaccine could be fully vaccinated by the end of August. That’s right, friends, Ontario is ready to deliver a two-dose summer,” Mr. Ford said during a press conference on Friday.

Canada turned the tide in May. We can win the pandemic war in June

Unfortunately, leaders during times of crisis tend to be people who are most skilled at elections

Meanwhile, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) issued new guidance that said with increased vaccine supply in Canada, second doses should be offered as soon as possible, with priority given to those at highest risk of illness and death. They can also be given at the same time first doses are still being rolled out. Canada had extended the interval between the two doses based on previous advice from NACI, which said that second doses could be given up to four months after the first while supply was limited.

Overview of second-dose

booking eligibility

Vaccinated groups

A

Older adults

1

80 and older

2

70 to 79 years old

B

Children, youth and young adults (12 to 25)

C

First dose received March 8 - April 18*

D

First dose received April 15 - May 9**

E

First dose received May 10 - May 30

F

First dose received May 31 onwards

*Includes those with highest health-risk conditions

and special-ed workers.

**Includes those who are 50 plus or with high-risk

health conditions.

Includes those who cannot work from home or

who have at-risk health conditions.

Week

ending

A

B

C

D

E

F

1

May 31

June 7

2

June 14

June 21

June 28

July 5

July 12

July 19

July 26

Aug. 2

Aug. 9

Aug. 16

Aug. 23

Aug. 30

Sept. 6

Booking second dose of AstraZeneca

Those who received their first dose:

March 10 - 19: Week of May 24

Those who received their first dose March 10

onwards and don't receive a dose during week

of May 24: May 31 onwards

MURAT YÜKSELIR AND JOHN SOPINSKI /

THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: PUBLIC HEALTH ONTARIO

Overview of second-dose booking eligibility

Vaccinated groups

A

Older adults

1

80 and older

2

70 to 79 years old

B

Children, youth and young adults (12 to 25)

C

First dose received March 8 - April 18*

D

First dose received April 15 - May 9**

E

First dose received May 10 - May 30

F

First dose received May 31 onwards

*Includes those with highest health-risk conditions

and special-ed workers.

**Includes those who are 50 plus or with high-risk

health conditions.

Includes those who cannot work from home or

who have at-risk health conditions.

Week

ending

A

B

C

D

E

F

1

May 31

June 7

2

June 14

June 21

June 28

July 5

July 12

July 19

July 26

Aug. 2

Aug. 9

Aug. 16

Aug. 23

Aug. 30

Sept. 6

Booking second dose of AstraZeneca

Those who received their first dose:

March 10 - 19: Week of May 24

Those who received their first dose March 10 onwards

and don't receive a dose during week of May 24:

May 31 onwards

MURAT YÜKSELIR AND JOHN SOPINSKI / THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: PUBLIC HEALTH ONTARIO

Overview of second-dose booking eligibility

Vaccinated groups

Older adults

A

1

80 and older

2

70 to 79 years old

Children, youth and young adults (12 to 25)

B

First dose received March 8 - April 18*

C

First dose received April 15 - May 9**

D

First dose received May 10 - May 30

E

First dose received May 31 onwards

F

*Includes those with highest health-risk conditions and specia- ed workers.

**Includes those who are 50 plus or with high-risk health conditions.

Includes those who cannot work from home or who have at-risk health conditions.

Week

ending

A

B

C

D

E

F

1

May 31

June 7

2

June 14

June 21

June 28

July 5

July 12

July 19

July 26

Aug. 2

Aug. 9

Aug. 16

Aug. 23

Aug. 30

Sept. 6

Booking second dose of AstraZeneca

Those who received their first dose:

March 10 - 19: Week of May 24

Those who received their first dose March 10 onwards and don't receive

a dose during week of May 24: May 31 onwards

MURAT YÜKSELIR AND JOHN SOPINSKI / THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: PUBLIC HEALTH ONTARIO

British Columbia announced this week that it would cut the interval between second doses to eight weeks, and Manitoba also expanded its eligibility for second doses.

The new dose interval in Ontario applies to people who received mRNA vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – and could be as short as 28 days, although that is likely to apply only to those who receive a first shot much later in summer.

The accelerated schedule begins with people 80 and older, and then moves on to those 70 and over starting the week of June 14, when the province is expected to move into the first step of its reopening plan. After that, Ontario is shifting to a “first-in, first-out” strategy that allows Ontarians to book their second shots based on when they got their first one.

The second step of Ontario’s reopening plan, expected to begin in early July, is contingent on 70 per cent of residents receiving first doses and 20 per cent being fully vaccinated.

By Aug. 9, everyone in the province who received a vaccine after May 31 will be eligible to book a second shot. Residents are encouraged to return to the place where they got their first dose, unless it is not convenient, and will be able to book at a different location if necessary.

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Ontario has also given first doses to more than 15 per cent of youth aged 12 to 17. The majority of young people are expected to get their first shots in June, and a second dose in August, to prepare for the school year in September, officials said.

However, Mr. Ford didn’t say if or when schools will reopen before the end of the school year in June. On Thursday, the Premier released an open letter to more than 50 medical, public-health and education experts, asking for a “broad consensus” on whether to reopen schools for the last month of the academic year. The feedback was due by the end of day Friday.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, David Williams, has said that he supports reopening schools, and that all the public-health units in the Greater Toronto Area are prepared for students and staff to return to their classrooms.

Mr. Ford said he knows where Dr. Williams stands on the issue, but he wants other experts to “weigh in.”

“I’ve never been afraid to make a decision – matter of fact, I’ve made some of the toughest decisions and probably not popular decisions,” Mr. Ford said. “I don’t want to rush this. If it takes a couple extra days, so be it. This is a massive decision.”

He said he was “really concerned” about the variants, particularly the B.1.617 variant that is central to India’s crisis. He added that the province’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table found that reopening schools could lead to an increase of 6-to-11 per cent in COVID-19 cases, though the table said that could be manageable.

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The Ontario government will also offer second doses to those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine after 12 weeks. But the government has previously said that those who got their first AstraZeneca jab between March 10 and 19 are also eligible for a second dose any time before Monday, when a batch of 50,000 doses is set to expire. Ontario officials said they are still awaiting guidance from NACI as to whether people who received an AstraZeneca shot will be eligible for mRNA vaccines for their second dose.

Ontario expects to receive 4.7 million doses in June, primarily Pfizer, with future deliveries of Moderna and AstraZeneca still pending, which could also speed up the timeline.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she was pleased with the decision to speed up second doses, but said rebooking appointments should not be “the same chaotic scavenger hunt” of the first round, especially for seniors.

Irfan Dhalla, a physician and vice-president with the Unity Health Toronto network of hospitals, called the move a “good step forward,” although he said he wished those 70 and over were eligible sooner. Still, he said more work needs to be done in reaching the highest-risk seniors, with recent data showing 1 in 4 adults 80 and up had not yet received a shot in neighbourhoods where COVID-19 was most rampant.

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