Vaccine Update - Sunday April 11, 2021

11:15AM

Last week, the Province of Ontario announced that vaccines would be made available to all residents aged 18-49 within specific hotspot postal codes. While we are grateful that there will be wider access for residents, I know this has caused additional stress and confusion as people try to confirm their eligibility, and access appointments.

There are two sets of "hot spot" postal codes circulating right now, and there are different eligibility criteria depending on where you book your vaccine. I wish I could provide more clarity into the decision framework on why some postal codes were chosen over others, and why hospitals are using a different list of priority postal codes than the Province announced. It will always be an imprecise way to target areas, and I appreciate how frustrating it is.

The list of neighbourhoods was identified by the Province of Ontario as areas with ongoing and historic high rates of COVID-19 transmission, hospitalization, and death. In Ward 13 those zones are M4X, M5A, and M5B. As of this morning, as far as we can tell the province's priority list still does not include M4Y.

As of Friday, April 9th, residents aged 50 and older in those high-risk areas  (M4X, M5A, and M5B) are able to book vaccine appointments at City-run clinics. Bookings for City Vaccination Clinics are available online at https://covid19.ontariohealth.ca/

Additionally, residents aged 18-49 living in these postal codes are eligible for the vaccine regardless of other Phase 2 criteria.  Toronto Public Health is still working on the implementation plan for that rollout with the Ministry of Health. We did learn yesterday that there are two pop-up vaccination clinics being administered at 40 Oak St and Wellesley Community Center. You can book an appointment online at https://uht-public.vertoengage.com/engage/generic-open-clinic?key=b6f65518-d5bc-4113-b7ed-ee33f7574929 

This clinic does appear to be accepting bookings from the three provincial priority postal codes in addition to M4Y. Currently, they are only booking 7 days in advance and all bookings for the next week are full. We do anticipate more pop up and mobile clinics in hot spots to open shortly.  As soon as we have more details on that, we will share that information.

Hospital Immunization clinics are operating under their own lists of priority neighbourhoods by postal code. In Ward 13 if you are within some specific Phase 2 criteria, or 50+ and older in the following postal codes M4X, M4Y, M5A, or M5B, you might be able to schedule a vaccine through a hospital immunization clinic. Residents who fall under this criteria should visit www.vaccineto.ca to access the pre-registration or appointment booking systems for hospital immunization sites. People can also call 1-888-385-1910 for assistance.

The hospital immunization clinics and the two pop-ups should be considered a high need, acute settings. They do not have the capacity to do the mass vaccination that the city clinics do. As such we have heard that the appointments here are regularly fully booked. The qualifying criteria are changing rapidly so I encourage you to keep checking if you do not qualify yet.

I completely share your frustration with the rollout. We are beholden to the province on access to vaccines and the prioritization framework. All we can do is keep pushing for more access, and share the information as we get it.

I know this is extremely challenging. Phone lines are busy, and even we are experiencing challenges getting up-to-date and accurate information. It is also highlighting the massive inequity of access to vaccines for people who do not have access to the internet. There is currently no way for people to book vaccines in person or over the phone for pop-ups. 

I am asking everyone to be patient a little longer, but I promise that everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to access one shortly. 

Thank you for your continued kindness and patience, 

Kristyn Wong-Tam

City Councillor

Ward 13, Toronto Centre

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