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
Those aged 50 and up across Ontario now qualify to book a vaccine through the provincial booking system, in addition to those with high-risk health conditions and a number of employees who cannot work from home.
The newly eligible workers include those in the education, child care, and the food and manufacturing sectors.
People aged 18 and up can book vaccine appointments if they live in one of 144 provincially-designated hot-spot postal codes as of this week.
The province says this expansion of eligibility will support the government's strategy of allocating 50 per cent of vaccine doses to hot spots during the weeks of May 3 and May 10.
Ontario is also now on track to administer first doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 65 per cent of adults by the end of the month, provincial health officials said Wednesday.
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 50 and over living anywhere, or 18-plus living in a hot spot, you can get vaccinated at a mass vaccination clinics, hospital clinics, mobile clinics (if they are available in your region) and some primary care settings (such as your doctor's office).
If you're under 50 and not in a hot spot or 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 might need to keep waiting.
Are you pregnant? If so, you are considered a top priority for vaccination in Ontario. You can book a shot through the provincial call centre. If your local health unit is not using the provincial booking system, call the unit directly to set up an appointment.
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.
What kind of work do you do? Those who cannot work from home are now eligible to get the shot, including those in education, workers responding to critical events, enforcement, inspection and compliance roles, child care and the food and manufacturing sectors. The list is set to expand in the week of May 10 to include more workers.
The province also says it is launching mobile vaccination units to help get vaccines to workers at small and medium-sized workplaces who can't work from home in Peel, Toronto and York.
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.
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 18-plus in hot spots
Torontonians over the age of 18 living in COVID-19 hot-spot neighbourhoods — determined based on postal codes — can now book a shot at a mass vaccination site or mobile vaccination units.
In the city, those postal codes are:
Residents 50-plus living anywhere in the city can book at a mass-vaccination clinic or some health partner clinics.
Anyone 40-plus accessing the AstraZeneca vaccine anywhere can book at pharmacies, or through select primary care providers and pop-up clinics.
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 310 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 18-plus
Peel Region announced it will be offering vaccines to all residents aged 18 and older — not just those in hot-spot neighbourhoods — starting Thursday, weeks ahead of the province's schedule.
Adults 18 years or older in all postal codes can also book a vaccine appointment at a hospital-run clinic in Peel.
Those 18-plus living in the following hot spot postal codes can book an appointment through Ontario's online portal:
Those 18-plus living in the following postal codes — that are not identified as hot spots — can also book through the province's online system:
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 50-plus
York Region is offering vaccine appointments to those age 50-plus through the provincial booking system.
In certain hot spots — postal codes L0J, L3L, L4H, L4J, L4K, L4L, L6A, L3T, L6B, L6C, L6E, L3S, L4B, L4C, L4E, and L9N — anyone over 18 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 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 50-plus
Durham Region has eight clinics running in Ajax, Bomanville, Cannington, Oshawa, Pickering, Port Perry, Uxbridge and Whitby.
Mass vaccination is available to those 50-plus, as well as residents 18-plus living in the following postal codes: 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 30-plus
Like Peel, Halton Region is also opening up vaccine eligibility to the younger population ahead of the province's schedule.
Starting May 19, all residents 16-plus will be allowed to book a vaccine appointment.
As of Friday, any 30-plus resident who cannot work from home are eligible for a vaccine.
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