Fri. Nov 18th, 2022

Starting Monday, Torontonians aged 75 and up can get vaccinated against COVID-19 at immunization clinics, even as the city struggles to fill appointments for those 80 and older.
The city of Toronto said in a news release Friday it received direction from the province to expand availability of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to anyone who is aged 75 or older as of Monday, a change being made province-wide.
The news came hours after Mayor John Tory pleaded with unvaccinated people aged 80 and up to book, saying spots were not filling up as expected at Toronto’s mass immunization clinics and at others outside the city.
By Friday afternoon, Sunday spots at the Toronto clinics had filled up, Toronto Public Health (TPH) told the Star, but over the weekend people born in 1941 or earlier can book for next week.
On Monday, once the age range includes Torontonians aged 75 to 80, clinic vaccination appointments are expected to fill “quickly,” said Dr. Vinita Dubey, an associate medical officer of health with TPH.
But not everyone can make it to the mass clinics that opened Wednesday, and just over half of the city’s seniors born in 1946 or earlier still haven’t gotten their shots, according to TPH.
Jeff Korda’s 98-year-old mother is homebound, receiving care from a private provider who also works with another senior. He called around and was told she falls under the catchment area for Humber River Hospital, with no option for a mobile vaccination unit at the moment.
“She’s fallen though the cracks somewhat,” he said, calling the rollout “discombobulated.”
“She is in a no man’s land for sure,” he added, noting there are probably many other seniors in this spot, and others who may not be able to sign up for an appointment online, or even wait on hold with the call centre.
Shanta Sundarason said her group of York Region volunteers called, helping eligible seniors get vaccination appointments and transported to clinics, has been overwhelmed with more than 600 calls since March 1.
“The government, people in the regions and municipalities, are completely ignorant — they think all seniors have family or friends that can help them book online and that is not the reality,” said Sundarason, whose group is expanding to Peel and Durham regions while looking for volunteer helpers in Toronto.
“So many seniors are living in isolation, without anyone to help them and they are sitting in their little bubbles stressing out,” about how to get vaccinated, she said.
Eligible Torontonians can book appointments online through the provincial online portal at or by phone through the provincial vaccine information line 1-888-999-6488.
Some hospitals, including University Health Network and Humber River, and Ontario Health Teams are also booking appointments through their own registration sites, and organizing clinics. More information is available at
Premier Doug Ford announced that, also starting Monday, pharmacies in regions including Toronto can start giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to residents aged 60 and older. Previously, it was limited to those between 60 and 65.
On Thursday, Ford told reporters that about half of the province’s 80-and-up residents had gotten at least one dose of the vaccine so far, including those living in long-term care or retirement homes who started getting access to the vaccine months ago.
As of Thursday, an estimated 71,920 of Torontonians aged 80 or older had not been vaccinated — about 53 per cent of the 136,842 total.
A recent brief from Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table found that bringing vaccines to seniors instead of making seniors go to the vaccines could speed up the rollout.
It recommended sending mobile vaccine clinics to apartment, condo or co-op buildings in COVID hot zones, where there are a lot of older adults.
About 70,013 Torontonians 65 and up, including 30,346 who are 80-plus, live in these “naturally occurring retirement communities,” defined as a minimum of 50 seniors and at least 30 per cent of residents are 65 or older.
Shiran Isaacksz, executive lead for the mobile teams for the Mid-west Toronto Ontario Health Team and University Health Network, is one of the authors of the brief.
He said his team brought mobile clinics to 18 congregant seniors buildings, that have agency support, vaccinating close to 1,300 seniors. Independent buildings with a lot of seniors are an “obvious next step.”
“We see a real need to bring vaccine to these seniors,” he added. It can help with vaccine hesitancy to see neighbours getting shots, and have the chance to ask questions, and think over the decision, he said.
Isaacksz is also working with TPH and other Ontario Health teams to develop a strategy for homebound seniors, using the Moderna vaccine, to “go out to all of them.”
Ruben Rodriguez, director, reactivation care centres, at Humber River Hospital, said they are not doing mobile clinics to individual residences yet because of the logistics involved with transporting the vaccines.
But they did recently bring vaccines to four seniors buildings and have plans for more in the coming days.
They also organized a pop-up clinic at a local church. He was on his way Friday to one at a mosque, hoping to get another one done before the start of Ramadan.
Door-to-door vaccination has also started at Toronto Community Housing seniors buildings, said spokesperson Bruce Malloch, with plans to do all 83 in the city.So far tenants in 23 Seniors Housing Unit buildings have been able to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, with an average vaccination rate of about 70 per cent, he said.
By Friday, a total of 331,739 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered in Toronto, including to residents who got two doses. About seven per cent of Torontonians have received at least one vaccine dose.
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