When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine? Ontario's booking system for vaccinations will launch on March 15

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Elisabetta Bianchini
·3 min read
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TORONTO, Jan. 18, 2021 -- A man arrives at a COVID-19 immunization clinic at the Metro Toronto Convention Center MTCC in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Jan. 18, 2021. Ontario's first proof-of-concept COVID-19 immunization clinic opened here on Monday to help develop a blueprint for how shots could be administered in non-medical settings. (Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Zou Zheng via Getty Images)
TORONTO, Jan. 18, 2021 -- A man arrives at a COVID-19 immunization clinic at the Metro Toronto Convention Center MTCC in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Jan. 18, 2021. Ontario's first proof-of-concept COVID-19 immunization clinic opened here on Monday to help develop a blueprint for how shots could be administered in non-medical settings. (Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Zou Zheng via Getty Images)

Retired general Rick Hillier, chair of Ontario's COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, confirmed the province's online and phone booking system for COVID-19 vaccines will launch on March 15.

Starting on the third week of March, Hillier said Ontarians 80 years old and older will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic closest to their home.

"The vast majority of those vaccination centres are still not operating because we're at that different group of the population and we don't have vaccines to put in them to start them up," Hillier said.

At the moment, the province will still work to vaccinate patient-facing health-care workers, people in long-term care homes, retirement homes and remote communities.

Beginning on April 15, people in Ontario between the ages of 75 and 79 can get vaccinated, followed by individuals between the ages of 70 and 74 on May 1. Ontarians 65 and older will begin vaccination on June 1, and those 60 to 64 years old will begin on July 1. 

Ontario COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan (Government of Ontario)
Ontario COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan (Government of Ontario)

Hillier said final decisions have not been made around how essential workers will be prioritized, outside of healthcare workers vaccinated as part of the first phase of the provincial government's plan.

"We do not anticipate being able to start with essential workers until the first of May," he said.

The Alberta government has announced that anyone in the province born in 1946 or earlier can now book an appointment online or on the phone for their COVID-19 vaccine. 

B.C. plans to provide vaccine information to people in the province over 80 years old in the next two weeks. 

In Quebec, people 85 years of age or older can begin to make an appointment to get vaccinated on Feb. 25.

When asked why Ontario will not be launching its booking system until March 15, Hillier said it wasn't necessary to set up while vaccines have only been distributed to seniors in care settings, patient-facing healthcare workers and remote communities.

He added that family doctors will deliver COVID-19 vaccine shots, but not in their own offices due to the "spoilage" that they would get trying to do so.

"What we are asking those primary care professionals, including obviously the doctors, is to reach out to your patients, reach out to the public health unit to become part of a vaccination clinic,...and then have your patients come to that pubic vaccination clinic and be able to give them the vaccination yourself, or one of your colleagues," Hillier said.

He added that the province is working with pharmacies to figure out how many vaccine doses will flow through them, adding that the plan is to have about 10 to 20 per cent of supplies distributed by pharmacies at the start.

Hillier could not confirm if all Ontarians will be able to access a COVID-19 vaccine by September, stressing that it would be dependant on vaccine supply.

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