Thousands of vaccine appointments remain open in York Region

Data reveals the demand for a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine may be easing off in York Region after hundreds of appointments went unbooked.

According to the region's medical officer of health, Dr. Karim Kurji, the health unit made 25,000 appointments available on Monday; but there were still about 2,500 that went unbook as of Tuesday morning, with another 33,000 appointments set to open to the public starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

"I'm hoping that you know folks that haven't been able to get appointments at the earlier stages will probably make use of these opportunities," says Dr. Kurji.

To date, 80 per cent of adults in York Region have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with just more than half the adults now fully vaccinated.

Dr. Kurji says the concern now sits with the 20 per cent who have yet to roll up their sleeves at least once. He says the region could rely heavily on pop-up clinics to get as many vaccinated as possible.

"It is very important, really, that we get coverage extended to the majority of our population," the top doc says. "So far, I think we have reached just under 80 per cent of our 12+ population with first doses while we are doing fairly well with the earlier second doses."

Plans are already in the works for pop-up clinics within York Region malls specifically for first doses only. Walk-ins are also being considered at some of the region's clinics starting July 12.

According to Dr. Kurji, up until now, clinics have worked with individuals when possible, ensuring their second dose was the same brand as their first. But an impending Pfizer shortage isn't going to allow that to continue, at least for now.

"We are advising people in advance that until about July 18, we can expect to be giving Moderna instead of Pfizer because of the relative shortage of Pfizer," says Dr. Kurji. "Thereafter, we expect the Pfizer supplies to resume again."

Eligible children between 12 and 17 years of age will still receive the Pfizer vaccine.