Ontario expands COVID-19 vaccinations to pharmacies as part of pilot project

Elisabetta Bianchini
·2-min read

Pharmacies and primary care settings are now included in Ontario COVID-19 vaccination plan as part of a pilot project.

Beginning Friday, March 12 over 325 pharmacies in the province will be offering the AstraZeneca to Ontarians between the ages of 60 and 64 (defined by year of birth between 1957-1961) as part of a vaccine delivery pilot.

Pharmacies in Toronto, Windsor-Essex, and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington began booking appointments on Wednesday, with the initial 194,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The provincial government stated that this will be expanded to other regions "as supply increases."

Retired General Rick Hillier, chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force, confirmed that once someone books an appointment they will not be able to book a second one, for anyone who is trying to play the odds to get a vaccine as soon as possible.

"There's a system to do that based on address and postal code," Hillier explained.

"It won't be perfect so I'm sure we'll find examples of those who have done that. All I do is encourage you to book one appointment."

The province is also offering COVID-19 vaccinations in primary care settings like, physicians offices, beginning in Hamilton, Toronto, Guelph, Peterborough, Simcoe-Muskoka, and Peel as of Saturday, March 13. Eligible Ontarians between the ages of 60 and 64 will be contacted directly to book an appointment. These healthcare providers will not be taking appointments by request.

Hillier confirmed that 29,500 doses have been allocated to primary care settings and the remaining doses will be distributed to pharmacies, with each pharmacy to get about 40 doses per day.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford stressed that on Monday, when the provincial website and call centre to book an appointment to get a COVID-19 is up and running, no one should be trying to get on that site or make a phone call unless they are in the 80 and older age bracket.