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Toronto tops 30,000 mark for vaccine bookings in one day; Parts of the city lowers eligibility to age 50 and over


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Toronto tops 30,000 mark for vaccine bookings in one day; Parts of the city lowers eligibility to age 50 and over

Toronto surpassed a milestone Friday, with more than 30,000 people booking their COVID-19 vaccine appointments in one day, Mayor John Tory said in an update.

It was the first day that the City of Toronto opened vaccine bookings to residents aged 60 and older at their five clinics, lowering the eligibility requirement.

The news comes exactly a week after Tory urged residents to get their jabs, touting almost 30,000 vacant booking spots over the following week. At the time, the eligibility was restricted for residents aged 75 and older.

According to a spokesperson for Toronto, hours after the move was made at 8 a.m. Friday, the city made registration history.

“As of 2:20 p.m. today 30,362 people have booked appointments for vaccinations in city-operated clinics since 8 a.m. this morning,” the spokesperson told the Star.

Tory said on Twitter that since 8 a.m. Friday, city-run clinics were getting around 106 bookings a minute.

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said more than 400 people were working in the five city-operated immunization clinics each day over the weekend to help with the vaccinations.

While bookings may have picked up, Dr. Anna Banerji, an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said much more needs to be done.

“The only way to prevent all these people from ending up in the ICU is to broaden the categories and start focusing on essential workers,” said Banerji to the Star.

“What we need to do is start thinking more broadly. Start having mobile clinics going into, for example, factories where people are working. They’re congregating where the outbreaks are occurring,” she said.

Banerji advocated for declaring a state of emergency and getting “physicians, nurses, people that can vaccinate to organize and just ramp things up.”

A total of 549,185 vaccines had been administered in Toronto and 80,591 people had booked vaccine appointments in city-run clinics as of Friday morning, the city reported in a statement.

“There are many appointments still available this holiday weekend,” the city said in its release.

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Here’s a list compiled by the Star’s Jennifer Pagliaro on who can get a vaccine in Toronto:

55 and older: You can book at a pharmacy to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. Visit covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations to find a participating pharmacy near you and contact them directly to book online or by phone (depending on the pharmacy). There are no walk-in appointments.

60 and older: In addition to pharmacy bookings, you can also receive the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through a city-run megasite by going to the provincial booking site at covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine or calling 1-888-999-6488 (TTY 1-866-797-0007). People born in 1961 and before can sign up. The city has mass immunization clinics open at: Toronto Congress Centre (650 Dixon Rd.); Mitchell Field Arena (89 Church Ave.); Metro Toronto Convention Centre (277 Front St. West); East York Town Centre ( 45 Overlea Blvd.); Scarborough Town Centre (300 Borough Dr.); and Malvern Community Recreation Centre (: 30 Sewells Rd.). Another clinic at The Hangar Sport & Event Centre (75 Carl Hall Rd.) will open on Monday. There are no walk-in appointments.

70 and older: In addition to both pharmacies and city-run sites, those 70 and older may be eligible to be vaccinated by hospitals in the city by visiting vaccineto.ca for a site closest to them. Some hospitals may be or begin to vaccinate younger populations ahead of provincial booking site. Check with individual hospitals for eligibility and availability.

In addition, those aged 50 or older who live in certain high-risk or high-priority areas of the city can book vaccinations by contacting Unity Health, the Toronto East Health Network (TEHN) or Humber River Hospital.

Unity Health’s St. Joseph’s Hospital is vaccinating those 50 or above living in area codes starting with: M6K, M6N, M8V, M9A, M9B, M9C, M9R, M9V and M9W.

St. Michael’s Hospital of the health network is vaccinating those with postal codes starting with: M4X, M5A and M5B.

If you live in the above postal codes, you must make an appointment — there are no walk-ins — by visiting the Unity Health website.

People 50 and older in east Toronto living in postal codes starting with: M4H, M1L, M3C, M4A, M1K, M1M and M1J can book their vaccines by going to the TEHN website.

Finally, residents aged 50 or older living in the northwestern Toronto’s catchment area: south of Steeles Avenue, north of Eglinton Avenue, east of Humber River/ Islington Avenue and west of Bathurst Street can book their vaccine by going to the Humber River Hospital website. The doses are given at the Downsview Arena clinic.

On Friday afternoon, Toronto reported 1,106 new cases since the previous day and seven more deaths. Ontario’s overall COVID-19 numbers weren’t available because of the holiday.

Kevin Jiang is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Reach him via email: [email protected]

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