Hamilton expands COVID vaccine eligibility to Indigenous peoples over 54

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Hamilton Public Health has expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to include Indigenous adults who are at least 55-years-old. 

The decision is based on Indigenous communities being at higher risk of COVID infections and complications.

According to Indigenous Services Minister, Marc Miller, "Indigenous peoples are 3.5 to 5 times more at risk of suffering severe or even life-threatening consequences of COVID-19."

On the City of Hamilton website, it’s noted that “COVID infections can spread easily in crowded and in multi-generational households where masking and physical distancing can be difficult or impossible to carry out.”

Public Health says it’s partnering with local Indigenous organizations to help ensure eligible members of the population are vaccinated.

"Collaborating with Hamilton Public Health Services means we can ensure all eligible members of the Indigenous community have the opportunity to be vaccinated in locations that work for them, whether it's at a large-scale clinic, through a mobile pop-up clinic in their neighbourhood or in another setting,” said Constance McKnight, Chief Executive Officer, De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre.

“Booking vaccine appointments for Indigenous adults will ensure they can be part of stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Hamilton and its disproportionate impact on our community."

Appointments for a COVID-19 vaccination can be booked by calling the Public Health Services COVID-19 Hotline at 905-974-9848, option 7. These are all by-appointment-only clinics. Walk-ins are not permitted. 

"Our local vaccination plan speaks to the vital engagement work taking place with representatives of vulnerable and marginalized populations in Hamilton,” said Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Medical Officer of Health, Hamilton Public Health Services.

“Working together with Indigenous organizations, this is an important step in the right direction to ensure all Indigenous adults have access to vaccinations to protect their loved ones and help stop the spread of COVID-19."

Meanwhile, all Ontarians aged 75 and older can start scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments through the province’s booking portal on Monday (Mar. 22).

Adults 75 and older were set to become eligible by the first week of April but Premier Doug Ford says the province’s immunization effort is ahead of schedule.

Officials say more than 50 per cent of Ontario residents aged 80 and older have now received at least one vaccine dose.

A pilot program offering vaccines in some pharmacies is also expanding and will now offer the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot to anyone aged 60 and older.

The pharmacy project previously only offered the shot to those aged 60 to 64 but the government says it is expanding after new guidelines deemed the shot safe for those 65 and older.

The number of participating pharmacies is also doubling to 700 over the next two weeks.

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