KITCHENER -- Health officials in Waterloo Region are now contacting people in the 70 to 79 age range to book appointments for COVID-19 vaccines.

As of Thursday, the region has surpassed 50,000 vaccinations.

In a news release, officials said people over the age of 80 still waiting for a vaccine appointment are still at the top of the priority list and will likely be contacted in the next few days.

“On December 22, 2020, when we began Phase One of the vaccine rollout in Waterloo Region, our priority was to vaccinate our vulnerable seniors living in long-term care and retirement homes, as well as the essential staff who cared for them,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang in the release. “It really is a major milestone to be surpassing 50,000 vaccinations today and moving to Phase Two because we’re that much closer to being able to vaccinate everyone who wants to get the vaccine.”

People between 70 and 79 were able to start pre-registering for a vaccine appointment on Monday.

Speaking at a Board of Health meeting on Wednesday, Regional Chair Karen Redman said they hope to administer first doses to everyone who wants one by the end of June.

"The experts and the scientists are saying it's good, it's a go," said Jim Bignell, who booked an appointment. "We're going for it."

Plans are also in the works for a 24-hour vaccination clinic for people who do shift work.

Waterloo Region received its first doses of the Moderna vaccine last weekend and started using that supply on Monday with the launch of a new clinic in Wellesley.