Ontario 'examining' possibility of letting more residents book second dose sooner: health minister

A person receives the Moderna vaccine from Dr. Rupa Patel during a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Richardson Stadium in Kingston, Ont., on Friday, May 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

Health Minister Christine Elliott says that the province is “examining” the possibility of letting more Ontarians book appointments for their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine weeks or even months ahead of schedule.

Ontario made residents 80 and up eligible to receive a second dose this week but wasn’t planning to extend eligibility to all individuals able to receive a shot until the week of August 9.

Elliott, however, told reporters at Queen’s Park on Thursday that discussions are now taking place about potentially scrapping age requirements altogether “to make sure that anybody who wants to receive their second vaccine can get one as quickly as possible.”

“We're looking at all options because we need to stay ahead of this (Delta) variant so that we can then move into stage one and get life back more to normal for people as quickly as we can,” she said.

Elliott’s comments come just one week after provincial health officials released an updated timeline for getting shots into arms.

Under that plan, residents 70 and up would become eligible for a second dose during the week of June 14 but the province would then switch to a “first-in and first-out” method where residents would become eligible based on when they received their first shot; not age.

Elliott said that if the province was to accelerate the widening of eligibility it would be done across Ontario and not just in hot spot communities.

Nearly 70 per cent of Ontario adults have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine so far but only a fraction of those individuals (about 835,000 people) are fully vaccinated.