More than 700,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Toronto

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On Saturday, Mayor John Tory received a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a pharmacy on Queen Street West. (CBC - image credit)
On Saturday, Mayor John Tory received a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a pharmacy on Queen Street West. (CBC - image credit)

A total of 710,852 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Toronto as the city continues to work with health-care partners, pharmacies and Toronto Public Health in its rollout plan.

Currently, people aged 50 and older who live in high-risk areas as identified by postal code can book vaccination appointments online or by phone at city-run COVID-19 immunization clinics.

On Saturday, Mayor John Tory received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a pharmacy on Queen Street West.

"I hope people will see, first of all it was utterly without any consequence or pain of any kind whatsoever and secondly, understand that any of the vaccines that have been approved, they wouldn't have been approved by Health Canada if they weren't safe and effective for people," Tory said after getting the shot.

"This one was the AstraZeneca one and I'm completely confident taking it because it has been approved by our Health Canada and it has been given to millions of people around the world.

"I think what's really important is just get vaccinated, it doesn't matter which one, just get a vaccination if you are eligible," Tory added.

Vaccinating essential workers where they live

Following this week's provincial announcement that everyone in Ontario's hardest-hit neighbourhoods aged 18 and up can get vaccinated, Toronto's approach is shifting further toward vaccinating essential workers where they live — in areas where we know there are high COVID-19 case counts, the city said in a news release on Saturday.

It says hospital and health-care partners have clinics up and running, vaccinating residents in hot spot neighbourhoods right now.

Several neighbourhoods in and around Toronto are home to the largest proportion of racialized workers who have disproportionately borne the impact of the pandemic. Yet, they were not included in phase one of the province's vaccination rollout.

In Toronto's east end, Michael Garron Hospital is hoping to administer 1,000 doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday to residents in two hard-hit neighbourhoods, Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park.

Abdullah Alazzawi says he 'feel more alive, more free,' after receiving his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up clinic in Thorncliffe Park Saturday morning.
Abdullah Alazzawi says he 'feel more alive, more free,' after receiving his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up clinic in Thorncliffe Park Saturday morning.(CBC News)

Abdullah Alazzawi said he got to the site at 5 a.m. to secure a spot in the line.

"It's an amazing feeling, I feel more alive, more free," he told CBC News.

"I think more people should get the vaccine."

Alazzawi said it was a hectic process but was worth the wait.

"I think they should speed up the process a little bit, get a lot more people vaccinated so a lot more people have a chance to be safe and live with their loved ones safely," he said.

More than 222,000 appointments booked

On Friday, Scarborough Health Network held a mobile clinic at a high school in a hot spot neighbourhood where they vaccinated staff and students.

As of Saturday morning, the city says approximately 222,085 people have booked COVID-19 vaccination appointments at a city-run clinic, an increase of 52,115 people since the vaccine eligibility was expanded on Friday.

The city says there are appointments still available and eligible residents are encouraged to book an appointment through the dark blue 'Book a Vaccine' button with the added option of booking by phone through the provincial vaccine information line at 1-888-999-6488.

The city and health-care partners are working to operate a total of approximately 34 clinics Saturday, including mobile teams and on-site clinics, to vaccinate priority groups identified by the province of Ontario's priority framework.

These clinics are only vaccinating those in the priority groups who have confirmed appointments.