Toronto preparing to ramp up capacity at mass COVID-19 vaccination clinics ahead of supply boost

Mayor John Tory says the city is preparing to ramp up capacity at mass immunizations centres in Toronto ahead of an influx of vaccine supply that should be arriving in the city in the coming days and weeks.

On Thursday, the provincial government announced that thanks to a boost in supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, officials expect that every adult in the province will be able to book an appointment for a shot by the week of May 24. Over the next two weeks, the province will be diverting 50 per cent of all incoming doses to hot spot neighbourhoods, including many in Toronto and Peel Region.

The province said those 18 and older in hot spot communities will likely be eligible to book a shot through the provincial portal starting next week.

The age eligibility for those using the provincial booking system dropped to 55 and older today, and the province said those 50 and older should be able to book a shot on the week of May 3. The age of eligibility will likely drop to 40 and older on the week of May 10 and 30 and older by the week of May 17. Everyone 18 and up will likely be able to book through the provincial portal by the week of May 24, the province said Thursday.

Ontario residents who are 40 and older are currently eligible to book an AstraZeneca shot at participating pharmacies.

Hospitals and other health-care partners have also been inoculating Toronto residents 18 and older through on-site clinics and pop-up vaccination sites.

Tory told CP24 on Friday morning that the city has always had the capacity to immunize more residents but a lack of supply hindered their effort.

The province says it expects to receive nearly 800,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for each week in May, increasing to 940,000 per week for each week in June.

Another shipment of 388,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine is expected to arrive in Ontario on May 10.

The boost in supply, Tory said, will mean many more Toronto residents will soon have access to a shot.

"You are going to see intensified operations at the city-run clinics and you will see more of the mobile clinics that we are doing with our hospital partners," Tory said. "It is entirely possible that that could include some places where hours are much longer."

The city operates nine mass immunization centres across Toronto and appointments at those facilities can only be booked through the provincial system.

"Of course our hospital partners also have quite a bit of capacity," Tory said.

"So I think people can look forward to more accessible vaccinations both in the sense of being able to sign up online for the city-run clinics but also in terms of the hours and the degree to which they can cover more people on any given day."