KITCHENER -- Highest-risk health-care workers in the Waterloo Region are now eligible for a shorter interval between their first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses.

“The Waterloo Region Vaccine Distribution Task Force is committed to balancing the priority of getting first doses in arms as quickly as possible with the priority to get second doses to those identified by the Province as being at highest risk,” Dept. Chief Shirley Hilton said in a press release. “With more vaccine on the way, we’ll be increasing our capacity at our vaccination clinics in the weeks ahead.”

Anyone in that group with a second dose appointment scheduled between now and June 14 should keep their original appointment. Anyone else meeting the eligibility requirements can complete a form on the region's website so they can get their second dose sooner.

“Depending on the volume of requests, it may take two to four weeks to be contacted about an earlier second dose appointment," Hilton said.

Speaking at the region's COVID-19 briefing on Friday morning, Hilton said vaccine supply is increasing through the end of May into June. She also said the region received more Moderna doses than expected this week and staff were able to shift those doses to local clinics.

Earlier this week, the region opened vaccine pre-registration to everyone 12 and older. The region said it could take four to six weeks to book an appointment after pre-registration.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang also addressed the province's decision to pause administering first doses of AstraZeneca due to concerns over rare blood clots.

"Individuals who received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine received protection earlier and significantly reduced their risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 and helped protect their loved ones," Dr. Wang said.

Dr. Wang said regional officials are waiting on guidance from the province on whether or not people should receive AstraZeneca or another vaccine for their second dose.

Here is a full list of who is eligible to shorten the interval between two doses. Regional officials said it might take two to four weeks to be contacted for an earlier appointment.

  • All hospital and acute care staff in frontline roles with COVID-19 patients and/or with a high-risk of exposure to COVID-19, including nurses and personal support workers and those performing aerosol-generating procedures:
  • Critical Care Units
  • Emergency Departments and Urgent Care Departments
  • All patient-facing health care workers involved in the COVID-19 response:
  • COVID-19 Specimen Collection Centres (e.g., Assessment centres, community COVID-19 testing locations)
  • Teams supporting outbreak response (e.g., Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) teams supporting outbreak management, inspectors in the patient environment, redeployed health care workers supporting outbreaks or staffing crisis in congregate living settings)
  • COVID-19 vaccine clinics and mobile immunization teams
  • Mobile Testing Teams
  • COVID-19 Isolation Centres
  • COVID-19 Laboratory Services
  • Current members of Ontario’s Emergency Medical Assistance Team (EMAT) who may be deployed at any time to support an emergency response
  • Medical First Responders
  • Paramedics
  • Firefighters providing medical first response as part of their regular duties
  • Police and special constables providing medical first response as part of their regular duties
  • Community health care workers serving specialized populations including:
  • Needle exchange / syringe programs and supervised consumption and treatment services
  • Indigenous health care service providers including but not limited to: Aboriginal Health Access Centers, Indigenous Community Health Centres; Indigenous Inter-professional Primary Care Teams, and Indigenous Nurse Practitioner-led Clinics
  • Long-term care home and retirement-home health care workers, including nurses and personal support workers and essential caregivers
  • Individuals working in Community Health Centres serving disproportionally affected communities and/or communities experiencing highest burden of health, social and economic impacts from COVID-19
  • Critical health care workers in remote and hard to access communities (e.g., sole practitioner)
  • Home and community care health care workers, including nurses and personal support workers caring for recipients of chronic home care and seniors in congregate living facilities or providing hands-on care to COVID-19 patients in the community