An online portal for booking appointments for COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario is set to launch on March 15, the head of the province’s immunization task force said Wednesday.
Retired general Rick Hillier provided an update on Ontario’s rollout plan this morning at Queen’s Park.
The announcement comes as members of the public in both Alberta and Quebec will be able to start booking appointments this week.
Hillier said the delay in launching Ontario’s version is because the focus until that point will be on populations that don’t require an appointment, such as patient-facing health-care workers and essential caregivers for long-term care residents.
“I would have liked to have it earlier, quite frankly,” Hillier told reporters, adding that health authorities are working “furiously” to test the system.
When the online portal, along with a telephone booking system, launch in March, Ontarians aged 80 and over will be the next priority. Hillier cautioned that anyone who is not in that age group, or who is not trying to make a reservation for a person in the 80-plus age group, will not be able to book an appointment in the weeks that follow.
Officials expect to begin vaccinating people 80 years and over by the third week of March.
The proposed schedule in the following weeks, Hillier said, will look something like this as long as supplies of vaccine stay steady:
- April 15: vaccinations begin for people 75 years old and over.
- May 1: vaccinations begin for people 70 years old and over.
- June 1: vaccinations begin for people 65 years and over.
- July 1: vaccinations begin for people 60 years and over.
Hillier wouldn’t say when those 60 years old and under who are not essential workers should expect to start getting shots. He also would not commit to the federal government’s proposed deadline of giving a vaccine to everyone who wants one by Labour Day.
Health officials on the province’s vaccine task force recently said that all of Ontario’s 34 public health units have developed individual plans to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines in the coming months. The plans were all submitted to the task force for approval.
As of Feb.14, all residents of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes — generally defined as those that provide memory care — who wanted a vaccine had been given their first shot. Health officials said that adults 80 years old and above should begin receiving doses by the middle of March.
So far the province has administered a total of 602,848 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and 251,590 people have gotten both doses.
Later today at 1 p.m. ET, Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold his own news conference alongside the ministers of long-term care and colleges and universities. You’ll be able to watch it live in this story.