Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine booking portal opens for residents 40+

Gatineau prepares for extended lockdown

Here’s Ontario’s May 12 vaccine update

"At this moment, we will hold on to them".

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who also received the AstraZeneca shot, said the province needs to begin planning how it might use the doses it expects to receive to avoid slowing down Ontario's vaccine effort.

The province stopped giving first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week, citing risk of a rare but serious blood clot linked to the shot. Though in Ontario where Trudeau received his first dose, provincial Health Minister Christine Elliott said Wednesday that a decision has yet to be made about whether AstraZeneca will still be offered as a second shot, leaving open the potential to let doses expire before that call is made.

Elliott said the province will reserve the incoming quarter-million doses for second shots but is still determining when and if it will give those out. None of the Ontario cases have been fatal.

Ontario reported 2,320 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and 32 more deaths from the virus. What this would mean is that Canadians who have had a first dose of AstraZeneca, which is a viral vector vaccine, could be offered a mRNA vaccine for their second dose.

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Elliott warned the public must continue to follow public health measures.

"We all want the third wave to be the last wave", said OMA President Dr. Samantha Hill.

However, infection rates in both cities have been steadily declining for about three consecutive weeks (Peel Region continues to register by far the largest number of active cases in Ontario, with 517 per 100,000 residents at last count).

Liberal House Leader John Fraser said the province should assume it will resume use of the AstraZeneca shot, and plan accordingly to have the shots where they will be needed to avoid waste.

Provincial health authorities have said they are awaiting guidance from Health Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) about the efficacy of mixing vaccines. "Just be prepared, be ready to execute quickly".

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"We are actively working on the vaccine rollout plan for 12 to 16-year-olds with the Ministry of Education and working with our public health units as well", Elliott said Wednesday.

The government has also confirmed that it expects to receive more than 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine next week.

There were 1,632 people in Ontario hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Thursday morning.

All of Ontario has been under a stay-at-home order since April 8, despite the prevalence of new cases varying substantially among different areas of the province.

"I know there are questions being asked around the world about the data that involves mixing and matching doses, there are no recommendations around that yet, but I know scientists are leaning in carefully to see if it may be the right option for many people", said the prime minister. The number of people with COVID-19 in the province's intensive care units, a key indicator of the health system's ability to cope with the pandemic, remains high.

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