Torontonians 60+ will be able to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments starting on Friday

An elderly women is helped walk in for her appointment at a mass COVID-19 vaccination site during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, March 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Toronto residents 60 years of age and older will be able to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments at city-run clinics starting Friday after the province authorized the city to lower its age eligibility.

Mayor John Tory confirmed the approval on Thursday, a day after the city asked the Ontario government to lower the age restriction for booking a COVID-19 vaccine on the provincial portal.

Beginning at 8 a.m. on Friday, residents born in 1961 or earlier can book a shot at a city-run mass immunization clinic.

"I encourage every resident who is eligible to get vaccinated, to do it this Easter weekend if they can. Our clinics are open throughout the Easter weekend and appointments are available," Tory said.

"Thank you to the thousands of people who answered the call to sign up throughout this week and thank you to all those family and friends who are helping their loved ones get their shot."

Tory thanked the Ford government for "their timely response to this request." Toronto had to ask the province for the change as the city is using the provincial booking system.

The city said there are about 2,000 appointments up for grabs at its clinics. Most of the appointments are available at Metro Toronto Convention Centre and Toronto Congress Centre.

The province also confirmed Thursday that people aged 60 and over in Peel Region can book an appointment to get a COVID-19 shot starting Friday, Apr. 2.

Tory also welcomed the news that vaccines will be available in 52 more pharmacies in the city. The provincial government announced Thursday that it is lowering the age of those who can book a vaccine appointment at a pharmacy to 55 years old and up and expanding the pharmacy vaccination program to 350 more locations.

The change at pharmacies will come into effect as soon as Saturday, the province said.

Currently, vaccine appointments at select pharmacies are only available for those who are 60 years old and up.

"This responds to a request from myself and Toronto Public Health that the vaccine be available at more pharmacies in the city, particularly in the northwest and the northeast," Tory said.

People 50 + in one of Toronto's hot spot neighbourhoods can now get vaccine

Other vaccination sites also moved to expand eligibility to more groups Thursday as Phase 2 of Ontario's vaccine rollout officially got underway.

Humber River Hospital will now begin inoculating people 50 and older who live in the nearby catchment area as part of a Phase 2 effort to target hot spot areas.

While the province's vaccine booking system is only allowing residents born in 1951 and earlier to make an appointment for a COVID-19 shot, some individual hospitals have been able to lower the age of eligibility in recent weeks.

On Thursday, Humber River Hospital confirmed those born in 1971 or earlier who live in the northwestern Toronto catchment area will be eligible to receive a shot at its Downsview Arena clinic.

That area is defined as people who reside within the following boundaries:

  • South of Steeles Avenue
  • North of Eglinton Avenue
  • East of Humber River/ Islington Avenue
  • West of Bathurst Street

This week, York and Halton regions lowered their eligibility criteria to those 65 and over.

A number of hospitals in Toronto also said Thursday that they would start immunizing people with “highest risk” and “high risk” health conditions as per Phase 2 guidelines.

More than 530,000 vaccines have been administered in the city to date, and Tory predicted Wednesday that the city will administer its next 500,000 doses even faster.

Toronto is currently running five mass immunization clinics seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. A sixth clinic is set to open inside the hanger at Downsview Park on Monday.