Some Toronto residents lined up to get their second shot this weekend as a number of pop-up clinics offered second doses in Scarborough.
The Scarborough Health Network (SHN) and Scarborough Ontario Health Team partners expanded their vaccine program for four postal codes identified as Delta variant hot spots.
Anyone 12 and older who lives, works, or goes to school in M1B, M1G, M1J, or M1S is eligible for a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech at the Scarborough pop-up clinics, provided they received their Pfizer dose at least 21 days ago, or received their first AstraZeneca dose at least 12 weeks ago and would like to receive Pfizer as a second dose.
"We look forward to offering more opportunities for people living in Delta variant hot-spots in Scarborough," SHN spokesperson Lisa Cipriano said.
Pop-up clinics this weekend were at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, Mary Shadd Public School, St. Nicholas Catholic School, the Chinese Cultural Centre, Woburn Collegiate Institute, and Agincourt Collegiate Institute.
The province announced mid-weekend that the 12-week interval for AstraZeneca recipients would be shortened to eight weeks, as recommended by a number of experts.
It comes as eligible Ontarians in Delta variant hot spots are eligible for their second shot beginning Monday, June 14. Those include Toronto, Peel, York, Halton, Waterloo, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, and Porcupine (near Timmins).
Canada's vaccination rate at 'fastest pace'
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, infectious disease specialist and a member of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, said Canada's pace of vaccinations is "pretty much the fastest pace of vaccinations anywhere."
On Friday, Ontario administered almost 200,000 vaccine doses in one day.
At the Scarborough clinics, many were looking forward to "returning to normalcy," including Glen and Lynn McTernan.
"We're going to a patio restaurant, having a beer, maybe travel one day when the borders open again," Lynn said after receiving her second dose of Pfizer.
Her husband Glen, who also got his second dose, noted the confusion regarding second dose eligibility.
"Different news and different websites told us we qualified while others didn't."
Patricia Partab was happy to receive her second shot.
"It's nice they're sharing more and more vaccines everyday, gives people more of a chance to socialize again instead of just staying in our home," Partab said. "I feel comfortable if I go out in public, I'm protecting myself, and protecting others."
Sarah Reesor came to get her second dose because her sister goes to a school in a Delta variant hotspot. But she was turned away.
"Some clinics are saying if you live with someone who goes to school in a hotspot, then you're eligible to get the vaccine," she said. "This clinic is apparently not doing that."
Awaiting university in the fall, and with her part-time job as a babysitter, Reesor thought she could get her second dose. She received her first dose on May 10 — just one day after the May 9 date announced by the province for accelerated second doses.
"It's a little frustrating, I really just want my second dose before the end of summer," Reesor said.
Accelerated second doses 'should hold off' 4th wave
While the accelerated second doses are beginning with Delta variant hot spots, Dr. Bogoch is hopeful the pace of vaccinations "should hold off" a possible fourth wave of infections.
But the Delta variant "will find unvaccinated people, and under-vaccinated communities," he added.
On children below 12 getting shots, he said "we really need the clinical trial data to demonstrate the safety and the effectiveness," which is not expected until late summer or early fall.
Eligible Ontarians can book their second dose appointment beginning Monday through the province's vaccine portal.
That group will first only include people who got their mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) on or before May 9 or who got their AstraZeneca first dose eight weeks ago and live in a hotspot area.