Torontonians 18+ in hot spot postal codes eligible for COVID-19 vaccines today
City publishes list of hot spot postal codes after province expands vaccine eligibility
Toronto residents 18 and older who live in hot spot postal codes are eligible to book an appointment for a COVID-19 starting this morning.
As of 8 a.m. ET, adults who live in hot spots can book appointments through the dark blue "Book a Vaccine" button on www.toronto.ca/covid-19. They can also call the provincial vaccine booking line at 1-833-943-3900.
In a news release on Sunday, the city said the expansion of the vaccine rollout follows an announcement by the Ontario government that it is ramping up vaccination efforts in areas hit hard by the pandemic.
The government has designated 114 postal codes across the province as hot spots. Fifty-three of them are located in Toronto.
And on Thursday, all people aged 50 and older, people with high-risk health conditions, those who can't work from home, including teachers and school workers, and First Nation, Inuit and Metis people not previously targeted in earlier phases of the immunization drive, will also be able to book appointments through the provincial system.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said expansion of vaccine eligibility is a "huge step forward" for the city.
"I continue to encourage all residents to get vaccinated as soon as they become eligible so that we can all be safe and bring this pandemic to an end," Tory said in the release.
Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, agreed, saying the vaccine rollout is expanding and it is progress.
"Torontonians at highest risk of contracting COVID-19 and, as a result, developing serious illness, are now eligible for vaccination through the provincial booking system. This is another large step forward in building a firewall against the virus — a wall that protects not only those immunized, but the entire community," De Villa said in the release.
According to the provincial government, employees unable to work from home and who will be eligible for vaccination include the following:
- Elementary and secondary school workers (including educators, custodial, school bus drivers, administrative staff).
- Workers responding to critical events (including police, fire, special constables, children's aid society workers, emergency management, critical infrastructure restoration workers).
- Enforcement, inspection and compliance roles (including by-law enforcement, building inspectors, food inspectors, animal welfare inspectors, border inspection officers, labour inspectors, WSIB field workers).
- Individuals working in childcare (including all licensees, employees and students on educational placements who interact directly with children in licensed childcare centres and in authorized recreation and skill building programs, licensed home child care and in-home service providers, employees of home child care agencies).
- Foster care agency workers (including customary care providers).
- Food manufacturing and distribution workers.
- Agriculture and farm workers.
- Funeral, crematorium and cemetery workers.
According to the province, people with the following high-risk health conditions are eligible to book vaccination appointments later this week:
- Obesity (Body Mass Index over 40).
- Other treatments causing immunosuppression, such as chemotherapy and immunity-weakening medications.
- Intellectual or developmental disabilities, such as down syndrome.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis people will be able to register through the provincial booking system, in addition to the other channels already available.
Vaccine rollout expansion is 'good news,' councillor says
Coun. Joe Cressy, chair of the Toronto Board of Health, said on Sunday that the move by the province to open up its registration system for people over the age of 18 across Ontario is significant. Cressy represents Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York.
"In the midst of a brutal third wave, we must vaccinate the most vulnerable as quickly as possible. By vaccinating the most vulnerable, not only do we save lives, but also we bring transmission to a close sooner," Cressy said.
He said the expansion of vaccine eligibility will make a difference. "It will help to protect some of the most vulnerable in our city and that's good news."
Previously in Toronto's 53 hot spots, people who were 45 and older could book appointments through the provincial system, while people 40 and older could go to pharmacies. People younger than 40 could get a vaccine through locally advertised mobile and pop-up clinics.
Cressy said pop-up and mobile clinics will continue in hot spots. But people in these areas will now have more choice, he added.
"While mobile and pop up clinics play a critical role by bringing vaccines directly into hard hit communities, directly to people, they are not a substitute for being able to register and book a space. We have long called for an increase in supply for hard-hit regions like the GTA," he said.
"With the news of increased supply from the province now coming and the registration system opening for those 18 years and older, we'll not only be able to bring mobile and pop up clinics into these neighbourhoods, but people in those neighbourhoods can also simply choose to go online and call and register as well."
Cressy said the idea is to make vaccination as easy as possible.
"We need to break every barrier to ensure people who need a vaccine can access it. We want more options, not fewer, to make it easier for people to get vaccines and that's why this provincial decision will make things better for our residents."
With files from Muriel Draaisma and The Canadian Press