The Government of Ontario is lowering the eligible age for COVID-19 vaccinations at its pharmacies and primary care settings and adding additional immunization sites.
Officials announced on Thursday that those aged 55 and older can now receive an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at pharmacies and doctor’s offices across the province.
A total of 350 additional pharmacy and primary care sites have been added to the list of immunization locations, with some expected to begin vaccinations as early as April 3.
“Ontario’s capacity to get needles in arms continues to grow by the day,” Premier Doug Ford said in a release. “We are ahead of schedule and administering more vaccines than all of the other provinces combined.”
“We are ready to dramatically increase the number of vaccines we can administer once we receive a steady and reliable supply from the federal government.”
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The province notes that, with these additional immunization locations, nearly 700 pharmacies can now offer the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to eligible populations.
By the end of April, approximately 1,500 locations are expected to be added to the list of vaccination sites.
As well, primary care settings and community locations in all 34 of Ontario’s public health units will soon be able to offer the vaccine. Currently, the initiate is only available in six public health units.
“With more locations coming on board, these settings will make receiving the COVID-19 vaccine easier and more convenient for eligible populations across the province,” said Christine Elliott, the Minister of Health.
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was first offered at select pharmacies and primary care settings across the province in March. However, only those aged 60 and older were eligible to receive it.
On Wednesday, the City of Toronto asked the province to lower the eligible age for a vaccine, as the city’s clinics are struggling to fill appointments.
“With the increasing spread of variants of concern and case counts in the thousands each day, we encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated and protect yourself and your family,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.
“For those still waiting, please be patient as your turn is coming.”
To date, Ontario has seen 352,460 COVID-19 cases and 7,389 virus-related deaths.