COVID-19 vaccine bookings will open Tuesday morning to anyone in Ontario who is 18 or older.
The province announced Monday that it was able to open up booking earlier than anticipated because of an early delivery of 2.2 million vaccines before the May 24 long weekend. The federal government said it will receive more Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines than anticipated this week.
Ontario residents who are 18 or will turn 18 in 2021 can book a shot starting Tuesday at 8 a.m. through the province’s online booking system or by calling 1-833-943-3900.
Previously, booking for those 18 and older was only available to those who lived in one of 114 Ontario COVID-19 hot spot communities or at some pharmacies.
Youths age 12 to 17 are scheduled to be able to book a vaccine in Ontario the week of May 31, with mass immunization clinics opening in mid June. Any family members who have not yet been vaccinated can also attend those clinics.
In addition, starting May 18, “public health units may choose to provide vaccines to those aged 12 and over in pop-up and mobile clinics, as well as for walk-in appointments where the Pfizer vaccine is offered,” according to a news release from the province. “This will include First Nations, Inuit and Métis clinics that offer the Pfizer vaccine.”
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only one approved in Canada for youths age 12 to 17.
Ottawa Public Health is also booking vaccines now for 16 and 17-year-olds who have highest, high-risk or at-risk health conditions or who are chronic home health care recipients, by phoning 613-691-5505.
OPH is seeking permission from the province to book shots for 16 and 17-year-old essential workers.
Quebec, Manitoba, B.C., Nunavut and the Yukon have already opened vaccines to all adults, while Alberta and the Northwest Territories currently take bookings for anyone age 12 and up.
Ontario is also switching gears in how it distributes vaccines starting this week.
It will now send the shots to regions on a per-capita basis, after two weeks of sending half the vaccine supply to COVID-19 hot spots.
In Toronto, which will receive fewer vaccines this week as a result of the change, Mayor John Tory said the city will have to figure out how to manage the drop in supply as demand for vaccines increases due to the broader eligibility.
“We can’t make appointments available for which we don’t have vaccines,” he said Monday.
As of May 12, just over half of Ontario residents over age 18 had received at least one dose of vaccine. Provincial officials estimate that 65 per cent of adults will have at least one dose by the end of May and they hope that all resident who want a vaccine will be fully immunized by the end of September.
Ontario reported 2,170 new cases of COVID-19 and four new deaths on Monday.
The hot spots continue to be Toronto, with 566 new cases, Peel with 556, York with 215, Durham with 120 and Hamilton with 101.
The province’s total number of cases now stands at 511,486, of which 34,358 are considered active and 477,128 have been resolved.
COVID-19 has claimed 8,489 lives in the province.
Ontario conducted 24,500 tests on Sunday. The effective reproduction number for the virus remains unchanged at 0.89. A Rt number below 1.0 indicates the outbreak is decreasing.
The province reported 1,320 people in hospital with the illness, an increase 0 28. Of those, 779 patients are in intensive care and 536 are on ventilators.
The province conducted 24,500 tests on Sunday.
Ontario is under a stay-at-home order until June 2.
In re-opening news, Premier Doug Ford said that summer camps will be allowed to reopen in the province this year.
The premier’s remarks came during a stop on the weekend at a mass vaccination clinic west of Toronto.
Ford offered no details on reopening plans, including whether they pertained to overnight or day camps and any public health measures that may be in place.
A spokesperson from the Premier’s office says more details will be announced before the stay-at-home order lifts.
However, the government is not budding on calls to immediately reopen outdoor recreational amenities like golf courses and tennis courts.
Health Minister Christine Elliott, speaking in the legislature Monday, said it was too soon. The number of people hospitalized with CoViD-19 remains high and the province does not want to risk a fourth wave, she said
Outdoor recreational amenities may be open June 2 “or perhaps even before that,” she said, but “today is not the day.”
Parks remain open and people can still walk, run and bike, Elliott said.
COVID-19 news in Ottawa and area
Ottawa Public Health reported 77 new cases and one new death on Monday.
That brings the city’s total number of cases to 26,111 with 536 deaths.
There are 1,066 active cases of COVID-19 in the capital, with 55 people in hospital and 19 in intensive care.
In the regions around Ottawa, Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington reported 10 new cases for a total of 1,478; the East Ontario Public Health Unit reported 10 new cases for a total of 4,502; Renfrew County added seven cases for a total of 675 and Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District increased by five to 1,478.
COVID-19 news across Canada
The country is poised to pass a sobering milestone as the number of people who have died of the virus approaches 25,000.
As of Sunday evening, Canada had recorded 24,948 deaths due to COVID-19.
There are 70,341 active cases and have been more than 1.3 million cases reported since the pandemic began.
More than 33.4 million COVID-19 tests have been performed.
Meanwhile, Shoppers Drug Mart said it is now selling rapid antigen COVID-19 tests for asymptomatic people at all its pharmacies in Ontario and Alberta.
News from the Outaouais and Quebec
After weeks of lockdown measures, some businesses in Gatineau and parts of the Outaouais reopened on Monday, though Ontario residents remain prohibited from crossing into neighbouring Quebec for non-essential reasons.
Under the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, high schools and some non-essential businesses in Gatineau, Pontiac, and the MRC des Collines reopened for in-person service, including cinemas, retailers, spas and personal and esthetic care providers.
In preparation for the reopening, Les Promenades de Gatineau, one of the area’s most popular malls, doubled its staff members, including security personnel to ensure capacity levels don’t exceed public health limits, according to Patrice Perron, senior manager of retail brand experience with Oxford Properties, the mall’s owner.
The mall’s website has a real-time tracker that shows occupancy levels. As of 11:30 a.m. Monday, the mall’s traffic was reported at 63 per cent of total capacity; it fell to 55 per cent when last checked at 3:30 p.m.
Perron credited the warm and sunny weather for keeping traffic at the mall low. The pandemic restrictions and continued closure of food courts has also meant shoppers are making shorter visits and are less likely to linger, he explained.
As Western Quebec emerges from lockdown, bridge patrols returned to the nation’s capital, with Ottawa police checking cars with Quebec plates crossing the Chaudiere Bridge into Ontario. Both Quebec and Ontario are prohibiting residents from the other province from entering unless they fall under a prescribed exemption.
Quebec is reporting 551 new cases of COVID-19 Monday and eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including two in the past 24 hours.
It is the fewest number of new cases reported since September in Quebec, where 75 per cent of residents have either received their first vaccination dose or booked an appointment for their shot.
Quebec Premier François Legault is preparing to announce the province’s long-awaited plan to ease pandemic restrictions over the summer. A news conference has been called for 5 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the plan.
Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by seven, to 501, and 116 people were in intensive care, a drop of three.
The province says 71,701 doses of vaccine were administered within the past 24 hours, for a total of 4,396,507; about 49 per cent of Quebecers have received at least one dose of vaccine.
with files from The Canadian Press