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A health care worker prepares a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto, on Jan. 7, 2021.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Ontario says pharmacies in three public-heath units, including Toronto, will begin administering COVID-19 vaccines next week.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says many of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses expected to arrive in the province will go to the pharmacies for the pilot program.

Canada received 500,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine this week and Ontario has said they will be given to people between the ages of 60 and 64.

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Ms. Elliott says the province is updating its vaccine rollout, based on the expected Oxford-AstraZeneca doses as well as a national panel’s recommendation that the interval between vaccine shots can be stretched to four months.

She says the updated immunization plan will be shared “imminently.”

The Ontario Pharmacists Association says the vaccination pilot will begin with approximately 380 pharmacies in Toronto, Kingston and Windsor-Essex health units.

Canada vaccine tracker: How many COVID-19 doses have been administered so far?

Coronavirus tracker: How many COVID-19 cases are there in Canada and worldwide? The latest maps and charts

CEO Justin Bates says pharmacies will use their own booking systems to make appointments, likely starting with people between the ages of 60 and 64, and the program will eventually scale up.

Meanwhile, Ontario reported 994 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 10 more deaths linked to the virus.

Ms. Elliott said there were 298 new cases in Toronto, 171 in Peel and 64 in York Region.

A total of 784,828 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province so far.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says extra vaccine shipments could make it possible to vaccinate all willing Canadian adults before September. The United States has an earlier target at the end of May, but Trudeau cautions against using the U.S., with its worse record of infections and deaths, as a guide for what Canada does. The Canadian Press

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

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