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COVID-19: MLHU vaccine supply still limited as eligibility expands to 18+

While the upcoming expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility marks a “day to celebrate” in London and Middlesex County, localized supply issues still linger, according to the region’s top doctor.

Starting Tuesday, everyone 18 and up will be eligible to book a vaccine appointment with the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU), as well as with every other public health unit in Ontario.

Originally, the province had scheduled the age group to be able to book on May 24.

Read more: Ontario expands COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to everyone 18 and up, starting Tuesday

Medical officer of health for the MLHU Dr. Chris Mackie says while the health unit is ready to pivot its system and accommodate the new bookings, more vaccine supply is needed.

The MLHU currently has enough capacity to dole out shots to about 24,000 people over the next week, however that’s only a fraction of the 135,000 people set to become eligible on Tuesday, according to Mackie.

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“So, about one dose available for every five or six people in that age group,” Mackie said.

“We are working with the province to try and identify whether additional vaccine supplies can be made available in time for the booking rush that we expect (Tuesday) morning and are remaining hopeful that that will be the case.”

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The MLHU is set to open its fourth mass vaccination clinic at Earl Nichols Recreation Centre on May 25. A fifth clinic is in the works, but Mackie says there are not enough vaccines projected to arrive over the next four weeks that would justify opening it up any time soon.

Read more: Shoppers Drug Mart selling rapid COVID-19 tests at stores in Ontario and Alberta

The province also announced on Monday that school-aged children who are between 12 and 17 years old will be eligible for vaccines on May 31.

Mackie said it remains unclear whether that age cohort will be based on birth year, as it has been with other cohorts, or based on a person’s current age.

“The (Pfizer) vaccine approval at the federal level is for 12-year-olds and older, not for people born in the relevant year,” Mackie said.

“We anticipate that people that are turning 12 later in this year will become eligible as they turn 12.”

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In the meantime, those 18 and up can start booking vaccine appointments at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Appointments can be booked online or over the phone at 226-289-3560, however phone hours are restricted to between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Mackie said 3,000 new appointments are made every day, so if appointments fill up on Tuesday, folks are asked to try again on the following day.

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