The Ontario government announced Saturday that the wait between the first and second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine can be shortened from 12 weeks to eight weeks.
Patients can also now choose between a second dose of AstraZeneca or an mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna, with an eight to 12 week interval, the government said.
The new policy on AstraZeneca doses comes into effect at 8 a.m. on Monday. All of the new options will be provided with the “informed consent” of a patient, the Ontario government said.
Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recently recommended that a shot of AstraZeneca can be followed by an mRNA vaccine. They also found that dosing intervals between eight and 12 weeks are safe and demonstrate a beneficial immune response, although a longer wait provides more protection.
“While waiting 12 weeks helps to ultimately provide more protection, some may choose to receive their second dose sooner to have the increased protection provided by a second dose,” the Ontario government said in a statement.
“All of these options provide protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant, and have been deemed safe.”
Province sees 502 new cases of COVID-19
Meanwhile, Ontario is reporting 502 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, down from 574 new infections on Friday. The province is also reporting an additional 15 deaths.
The new cases include 89 in Toronto, 71 in Peel region, 51 in Waterloo and 31 in Durham, according to Health Minister Christine Elliott.
She says the numbers come from nearly 24,100 tests completed since the last daily report.
Provincial data shows 447 people are in hospital due to COVID-19, including 422 in intensive care and 277 on ventilators.
Patios reopen across the province
This weekend marks the first weekend since Ontario moved into stage one of the province’s most recent reopening plan.
Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people and patio dining of up to four people per table are now among the permitted activities.
Non-essential stores have also been allowed to reopen at 15 per cent capacity limits.
Ontario marks 11 million vaccine milestone
The seven-day average of daily cases fell to 502, its lowest point in more than eight months.
The province says 195,032 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the last day, for a total of 11,022,452 shots given so far.
Starting Monday, residents in seven designated delta variant hot spots who had their first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine on or before May 9 will be eligible to book an appointment to get their second shot earlier than anticipated.
Those hot spot areas are: Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, Halton Region, Waterloo Region, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and Porcupine.