50% of Toronto adults have received 1st vaccine dose, but still need to follow COVID-19 rules

Toronto officials will provide a COVID-19 update today at 2 p.m. ET. Mayor John Tory, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Toronto Fire Chief and head of Emergency Management Matthew Pegg are scheduled to speak. 

CBC News will carry the livestream here.

Half of adults in Toronto have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, but city officials say much more work needs to be done before easing lockdown restrictions and public health guidelines.

“This is a non-stop effort,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement Saturday, announcing the milestone. “It’s about saving lives and getting life back to normal. It’s about hope, summer, jobs, family and good health.” 

“Now let’s get on to 65 per cent Toronto — on our way back to the lives we know and love,” Tory said. 

That will likely happen by the end of May across Ontario, Health Minister Christine Elliott told reporters last week. 

More than 1.4 million doses have been administered in Toronto as of Monday, with many residents across the GTA hunting down vaccines through social media and word of mouth. It’s becoming common to see long line-ups outside pharmacies and pop-up clinics across the region. 

Some community organizations are getting creative with their vaccine clinics, including the Jamaican Canadian Association that targeted Black residents and administered 2,231 doses this weekend. It offered Caribbean music and food. Most of the residents who were vaccinated at the clinic were between the ages of 18 and 30. 

The clinic was designed to help address vaccine hesitancy and build immunity in the Black community.

“Everyone appreciated the joyful celebratory nature of the event,” Dr. David Burt, an immunologist with the city’s Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity, told the board of health Monday.

Vaccine eligibility will expand this week to include people: 

  • Who have an at-risk health condition such as dementia, diabetes and sickle cell disease on, as of Tuesday.

  • Who cannot work from home, such as in essential retail, manufacturing, social services, courts, transportation, financial services, veterinarians and others, as of Tuesday.

  • Who are 40 years and older in non-hot spot communities, as of Thursday.

The province also quietly expanded eligibility for Pfizer shots last week to all adults at select pharmacies, including 78 locations in Toronto and Peel Region. 

It announced on Monday that frontline health-care workers will be eligible for their second dose by the end of this week, earlier than the four-month interval. 

Elliott reported 807 new cases in Toronto, an encouraging sign the third wave may be plateauing after the city recorded more than 1,000 new daily cases throughout April.

The city’s data shows “some signs of improvement,” Dr. Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, told the board of health.

She noted the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations and active outbreaks are down.

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