Miriam Katawazi
Multi-platform author, CTV News Toronto

@ MiriamKatawazi

Ontario’s online portal, where people in the general population can book their COVID-19 vaccine appointment, will open Jan. March started and begins with the fact that people aged 80 and over can register first

Retired Gen Rick Hillier, the head of the provincial COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, announced Wednesday that the province is “working furiously” to launch the online and phone booking system to help vaccinate people in the region general population to begin with

“Our plan is in place, we are rolling it out,” Hillier told reporters. “We are now furiously working on the final steps in preparation to thoroughly test [the booking system] and then on August 15th March to go live ”

Once the platform is launched, people aged 80 and over in Ontario can start their appointments from the age of 22 Book March 15 April can book people over 75 years May be granted to people over 70 years of age On the 1st June, people aged 65 and over can book an appointment On the 1st July booking is possible for people aged 60 and over

Hillier warned that people should not try to access the website outside of their allotted time frame as they will not be able to use the system

“Please stay away from the online reservation system and stay away from the customer service call center,” he said

Basic workers will likely be able to book their appointments and get their first doses by the first week of May if the delivery of the vaccine to the province goes smoothly, Hillier said, adding that the decision on who will qualify for the vaccine in that category will be will fall out of the closet

He said he couldn’t provide a schedule for when people from other groups can get their vaccine, despite the federal government’s plan to give a shot to anyone who wants a vaccine by the end of September Hillier said it was all dependent on vaccine supplies that Canada provided receives, and possible interruptions in this supply

“We don’t have to answer it now. I think in early summer we would start discussing this topic and see if we got to a point where we can actually go straight through the population,” said Hillier

“Our challenge now is that we still have a relatively small number [of vaccines] and we still have a large number of vaccines in the most vulnerable circumstances”

Critics say Ontario appears to be lagging behind other provinces, including Alberta and Quebec, which have already launched their online booking systems for the public

In response, Hillier told reporters Wednesday that the booking system will not be needed until March because priority groups, including healthcare workers, long-term care residents and members of the First Nations community, do not currently need to book their appointments online

“We don’t need these people to book appointments, we have a different method,” said Hillier. “We don’t have to fall into a category until the third week of March where we actually need bookings at mass vaccination clinics or pharmacies”

“I would have liked to have added earlier, quite frankly … but we’re almost done”

He said while some provinces have already started vaccinating people over 80 in the general population, Ontario has not done so because it has decided to run its program

“We’ll be ready by the third week of March to start in these age groups and work on them as soon as possible,” he said

Premier Doug Ford told reporters at a news conference that Ontario officials want to make sure the website is fully functional before proceeding

While Alberta’s website was 10Having booked 000 vaccinations, Ford doesn’t want the Ontario website to crash minutes after launch like it did in Alberta

“They set up their website and it crashed. We want to make sure we can do it, we did it,” said Ford. “We run the whole country, we do more than Alberta”

He also stabbed Quebec, saying the province hadn’t given a single second dose of the vaccine, but in Ontario thousands of people had been fully vaccinated

The Quebec government has decided not to give second doses as part of its vaccination strategy, which is effective according to initial data.A Quebec study found that 80 percent of the COVID-19 vaccine was 80 percent effective in the elderly and healthcare workers after a first dose is effective

“The bottom line is we need vaccines. If we had millions of vaccines, it would be a lot easier,” said Ford. “But for now we’re making sure we are vaccinating the most vulnerable and that we are focusing on the frontline caregivers”

The province has stated that so far it has 602 residentsHas given 848 doses of a vaccine and that 251590 of these people received their second shot and are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19

So far, all high-risk nursing and retirement homes who wanted a vaccine have received their first shot, Hillier said for the remaining days in February and early March, the province is focused on reconsidering those attitudes and offering the second shot of the vaccine He said officials continue to focus on remote First Nations communities

The province reported earlier this week that each of Ontario’s 34 public health units would be tasked with developing their own strategy for delivering the COVID-19 vaccine to their residents, agencies will be involved in the delivery of the vaccine through mass vaccination clinics, pharmacies and Mini-clinics under the direction of primary care professionals help

Once their age group is allowed to access the online portal, people can log in to find the closest clinic.Residents will be asked to enter their zip code and then go to the nearest vaccination clinic to their home

“We’ll have a flyer sent to households to say when it’s your turn to tell what to look out for and what to be prepared for,” said Hillier

“The provincial plan includes our public health units, our hospitals, pharmacies and primary care workers Everyone is on deck ”

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Source: https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ontario-s-online-portal-to-book-covid-19-vaccines-launches-on-march-15-people-80-and-over-first-in-line-1.5322082