How to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the Greater Toronto Area — if you qualify
CBC Toronto will be updating this story as the vaccine campaigns open up to more people
Tuesday marks another big shift in Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine rollout — those aged 40 and up now qualify to get their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Newly eligible people (born in 1981 and earlier) will be able to book at pharmacies or, in some cases, with their primary-care physician, and are urged to get a shot as soon as they can as the province struggles with a third wave of the pandemic that's overwhelming its hospitals.
Twenty Shoppers Drug Mart locations — 16 of which are throughout Toronto and Peel and York regions — are starting to offer 24/7 vaccine appointments (the locations are listed below). Similarly, all 1,400 or so pharmacies participating in the province's immunization campaign will allow walk-in appointments. Eligible adults are encouraged to call their local pharmacy to see if it is offering walk-ins.
Experts say the ongoing stay-at-home order and 100,000 vaccinations per day will be needed to stop the province from facing an even more dire situation.
The news also comes as the province — which says if it had enough supply it could deliver some 500,000 vaccines per day, even though it's never come close to that goal — continues to prioritize COVID-19 hot spots.
In parts of the GTA hit hardest by the third wave, anyone 18-plus is now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, though accessing it is more complex than simply booking a shot at a mass vaccination site.
So, how do you know if you qualify for a vaccine and how do you go about getting one?
Here are the key factors that determine your eligibility
How old are you? If you're over 40, you can book a vaccine through a local pharmacy. If you're 60-plus you can use a mass vaccination site.
Where do you live? In some hot-spot areas of the GTA where there have been a large number of COVID-19 cases, those aged 18 and up are able to get a vaccine. This program is set to expand to more cities in the near future.
If you're in the 18-50 range, you won't book through the province's system. Instead, you'll need to look for a pop-up site or mobile clinic operating in your neighbourhood, where you work or maybe even a religious site in your community.
What kind of work do you do? Most essential workers won't be vaccinated until mid-May, the province says. However, some jobs, like those in the health-care sector, will allow you to get a vaccine sooner.
Do you have an underlying health condition? Right now, the province is offering first shots to those with specific conditions. If that's you, you can pre-register for a shot.
Are you Indigenous? All Indigenous adults qualify to get a vaccine.
If you're under 55 and not at high risk of contracting COVID-19 — let's say you're in your 20s or 30s, healthy and able to work from home — you'll need to keep waiting.
Remember, you should only be vaccinated in the city or region you live in — the overarching goal is still to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, which means staying close to home as much as possible. Experts warn we are in a third wave of the pandemic driven by coronavirus variants that are more transmissible than the original strain of the virus.
One more disclaimer: the following guide is intended for the general public, and doesn't capture those who will be vaccinated by specialized teams — for example, mobile teams distributing vaccines in homeless shelters or other congregate settings.
Now that's clear, here's where you should book a vaccination spot if you qualify.
Here's the province's centralized COVID-19 booking site. There's also a phone line for those who need it: 1-888-999-6488.
If you are calling, make sure you know if you qualify. There has been confusion.
Toronto — mass vaccination sites open for 50-plus in hot spots
Torontonians over the age of 50 living in COVID-19 hot-spot neighbourhoods — something determined based on postal codes — can now book a shot at a mass vaccination site.
In the city, those postal codes are:
Toronto has now vaccinated more than 900,000 people and anyone 60-plus can book at a mass-vaccination clinic.
You can find a full list of vaccination sites on the city's website.
Toronto Public Health and its partners are now overseeing more than 25 vaccination sites (including mobile operations).
You will still need to make an appointment, walk-ins or stand-by appointments are not available.
Here are the Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies offering 24/7 vaccines in the city:
- Scarborough – 1235 McCowan Road
- Scarborough – 2330 Kennedy Road
- Scarborough – 2901 Sheppard Avenue East
- Scarborough – 255 Morningside Avenue
- Toronto – 1500 Woodbine Avenue
- Toronto – 1500 Avenue Road
- Toronto – 2345 Yonge Street
- Toronto – 770 Lawrence Avenue West
- Etobicoke – 5230 Dundas Street West
- Etobicoke – 123 Rexdale Boulevard
- North York – 3975 Jane Street
Peel — mass vaccination sites open for those 60-plus
Like Toronto, accessing a vaccine in Peel depends on where you live.
Mass vaccination sites are open to anyone over 60. Anyone over 50 and living in a hot spot (listed below) can also book their first shot.
The public health unit is also offering COVID-19 vaccines to anyone over 18 in the following postal codes, although how they'll access it hasn't been determined in many cases:
- L4T — book at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Complex
- L6S — book at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Complex
Peel Public Health is directing residents to vaccination clinics in Brampton and Mississauga.
Here are the pharmacies offering 24/7 vaccines in the region:
- Brampton – 10661 Chinguacousy, Building C, Fletchers Meadow
- Brampton – 160 Main Street South
- Brampton – 49 Mountainash Road
- Brampton – 34 Avondale Boulevard
- Brampton – 1 Kennedy Road South
- Brampton – 25 Great Lakes Drive
- Mississauga – 2470 Hurontario Street
York — mass vaccination sites open for those 60-plus
York Region is offering vaccine booking to those age 60-plus.
In certain hot spots — postal codes L4L, L6A, L4K, L4J and L3S — anyone over 35 can get their first dose of vaccine.
Those people can search for booking slots every day at 8:30 a.m. Note: You must book online and please only book once.
High priority health-care workers in the region are now eligible for a vaccine, as well. You can check here to see if that's you.
The region has also opened a drive-thru mass vaccination site at Canada's Wonderland.
One pharmacy is offering 24/7 vaccines. You can find it in Vaughan, at 4000 Hwy #7.
Durham — mass vaccination sites open for those 60-plus
Durham's program is up and running, though also dealing with a limited supply of vaccine. There are four clinics running in Clarington, Pickering, Oshawa and Whitby.
Mass vaccination is available to those 60-plus, while 50-plus people in the following postal codes can also book a shot: L1S, L1T, L1V, L1X, L1Z.
Bookings open at 8 a.m. daily and the public health unit is urging seniors to not arrive more than 10 minutes before their vaccination slot so they don't have to wait outside.
Halton — mass vaccination sites open for those 60-plus
Halton is running six appointment-only vaccination clinics. You can book online here.
The public health unit is also offering free transportation to its clinics, though that travel must be booked 48 hours in advance.
One pharmacy is offering 24/7 vaccines. You can find it in Oakville, at 2501 Third Line, Building B.
With files from The Canadian Press