Ontario Announces Details of AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Pharmacy Pilot

Eligible Ontarians aged 60 to 64 in three public health units will be able to book an appointment for the Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a pharmacy starting on Friday.

The Ontario Ministry of Health has announced the locations of more than 325 pharmacies in Toronto, Windsor-Essex and Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFLA) are participating in a pilot program to administer 194,500 doses of the vaccine.

Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaws, Rexall and Costco are among the pharmacies that will provide vaccines with some independent pharmacies.

Information on pharmacy locations can be found on the website:

At a news conference, Wednesday afternoon retired Gen. Rick Hillier, who is leading the province’s vaccine task force, said of the doses from the pilot project, 29,500 will be going to family doctors, while the rest are going to pharmacies.

Primary care physicians in six public health units (Hamilton, Toronto, Wellington-Dufferin Guelph, Peterborough, Simcoe Muskoka and Peel) will also start offering vaccines for eligible people age 60 to 64 starting on March 13.

The province says they will not be taking appointments by request, but doctors will instead be contacting people directly to book appointments starting Wednesday.

Going forward, Ontario will have 120 new mass immunization clinics set up, Ford said and will be in a place to offer up to 150,000 vaccines a day, depending on supply.

Ontario will launch an online appointment system and service counter for vaccinations on March 15.

The supports are intended to help answer questions and schedule mass immunization clinics, starting with people over 80 years of age.

At the press conference, TH Doug Ford reminded the public not to use those systems unless they were over 80.

Many locations have encountered problems because the demand for appointments is out of capacity.

The vaccine from AstraZeneca is the third vaccine approved domestically and is allowed for use by all adults, including the elderly, but the National Immunization Advisory Committee (NACI) is concerned that there is little data on vaccine activity levels in older adults.

The NACI does not recommend injections to anyone over 65 years of age.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said half a million injectable doses of AstraZeneca arrived in Canada last week and are being distributed to the provinces.

On Monday, Mayor John Tory announced Toronto had enough vaccine supplies to open three mass vaccination clinics starting March 17.

Toronto clinics will operate seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and detailed information about clinic operations, including how the reservation is made, will be available in the coming days.

Some Ontario public health units will continue to use their vaccination scheduling system even after the provincial portal becomes available next week.

The province received 35,264 shots of the COVID-19 vaccine yesterday. A total of 2,79,204 people received both Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

The government is preparing to move to Phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine delivery plan next month, with an emphasis on vaccinating populations based on age and risk.

Meanwhile, Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto confirmed today that a mobile medical unit is being built on the hospital’s campus to prepare a potential patient population in April.

This activity is a joint effort between the hospital and the provincial and federal governments.

The mobile unit will have 84 beds, however it can be expanded to accommodate 100 if the need arises.

“If they need for a hospital bed increases, we expect this facility to be used to provide space for patients awaiting placement in other facilities and patients in recovery.

This will free up the acute and critical care bed in the hospital.

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