Youth soon eligible for accelerated second dose

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The Ontario government announced Friday that 42% of the adult population had been fully vaccinated, and that youth aged 12 to 17 years old can begin booking accelerated second doses starting Monday at 8 a.m.

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“As the province enters Step Two of our Roadmap, all eligible Ontarians have the opportunity for a two-dose summer,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement released Friday. “Vaccines are the best defence against COVID-19 and variants, and I encourage everyone to get their first and second shots as soon as possible.”

The province administered 145,674 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine Thursday for a total of almost 15.2 million doses in total.

About 5.19 million Ontarians have now had the double doses required to be considered fully vaccinated.

The provincial vaccination effort has blown past the thresholds needed for Step Three in the government’s Roadmap to Reopen plan, even though Step Two commenced just this past week.

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Public health and government officials say there is a need for caution in reopening the province due to the presence of the more contagious delta variant, which has been driving up infections in many countries, particularly in areas where vaccination rates are low.

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Ontario is sending second-dose mobile teams to Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Toronto, Peel and York hotspots.

“Two pop-up teams and additional vaccination staff are also helping to accelerate first and second doses in priority communities in Waterloo Region,” a statement said. “A total of 230,000 additional doses were provided to delta hotspots over the past weeks to accelerate vaccinations and further protect these communities.”

Provincial public health officials released two days’ worth of COVID-19 data Friday.

Ontario reported 284 new cases of COVID-19 and 19 more deaths Thursday, and 200 new cases and nine additional deaths Friday.

Of the total 545,381 cases confirmed during the pandemic, 534,010 were resolved without serious long-term illness or death.

There were 252 patients in intensive care due to COVID-19, including four transferred Manitoba residents, and 160 individuals on ventilators.

aartuso@postmedia.com

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