BARRIE, ONT. -- The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) has a community strategy to vaccinate the majority of over half a million residents over several months.

The health unit follows Ontario's three-phased plan for vaccine distribution, which involves vaccinating thousands of residents daily through various vaccine clinics.

Here are some of your questions answered about the vaccination program across Simcoe Muskoka.

WHO CAN GET VACCINATED RIGHT NOW?

The Ontario government has outlined a three-phased approach that prioritized vaccinations for the most vulnerable, including seniors and high-risk residents.

Individuals 60 and older are eligible to book an appointment to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, along with other priority groups.

The eligible list of residents expanded to include faith leaders who are in close contact with specific individuals, essential caregivers in seniors' facilities, all remaining healthcare workers, adult recipients of chronic home care, and Indigenous adults and their household members over 16.

The province announced some Bradford residents would qualify to be immunized as the town was identified as a hot spot for transmission.

Plus, transplant recipients and some cancer patients can receive their second doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

AstraZeneca

Select pharmacies in the region can now offer the vaccine to residents 55 and older dependent on supply. A full list of eligible pharmacies is available here.

Primary care physicians are also booking vaccine appointments for some clients for AstraZeneca vaccines in the region.

WHO IS NEXT IN LINE?

The health unit has moved into Phase 2 of the province's vaccination program and will accept appointments from eligible residents (see above).

Additionally, individuals 50 and older in COVID-19 hot spot communities can pre-register for an appointment.

The health unit expects Phase 2 to continue over the next few months.

Following Phase 2, the province plans to start vaccinating all Ontarians over the age of 16.

HOW WILL I FIND OUT WHEN I CAN RECEIVE THE VACCINE?

To check when you will be eligible for the vaccine, head to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit's website for updates.

SMDHU's goal is to have at least 75 per cent of the region immunized with both doses by the end of August.

WHERE DO I SIGN UP?

Book an appointment online or call 1-888-999-6488 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week..

The system doesn't allow group bookings, so each individual needs their own appointment.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW BEFORE REGISTERING?

Only those in the priority groups are eligible to register for their vaccine due to a limited supply.

Indigenous adults need to bring proof of ancestry and residency to confirm eligibility. Contact the local Indigenous organization if these documents are readily available.

WHO HAS ALREADY RECEIVED THE VACCINE?

Since vaccinations began in December 2020, over 115,000 Simcoe Muskoka residents have been immunized.

Nearly all long-term care and retirement home residents across Simcoe County and Muskoka have been inoculated, along with staff in those facilities.

About two-thirds of all hospital staff and physicians have received the vaccine.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has gone into the arms of residents 60 to 64 by primary care teams, and nearly 3,000 Moderna shots have been administered.

WHEN DO I GET MY SECOND DOSE?

The Ontario government requires that long-term care and retirement home residents receive their second dose within 21 to 27 days of their first.

The health unit is giving the second dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine 16 weeks after the first dose under the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommendation.

WHERE ARE THE VACCINES BEING DISTRIBUTED?

There are various locations across Simcoe County and Muskoka for vaccination clinics. Drive-thru and mobile clinics are also available.

The health unit will use pop-up clinics for more remote areas.

Simcoe Muskoka Vaccine Clinics

WHO DO I CONTACT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS?

The SMDHU can help with any questions or concerns by calling 705-721-7520 head to the health unit's website.