LONDON, ONT. -- A large cohort of essential workers and older adults will be able to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments starting Thursday.

The soon-to-be eligible will have the opportunity to book vaccination appointments at one of London and Middlesex County’s three mass vaccination clinics.

“In alignment with provincial decisions, we will be opening on Thursday with the rest of the province to two very large groups,” announced Dr. Chris Mackie, Middlesex-London Medical Officer of Health during a media briefing.

The MLHU will lower the vaccine eligible age from 55-years old to 50-years old.

It will also start booking appointments for the first group of essential workers in Phase Two of the provincial vaccination plan.

That group includes:

  • Education staff directly supporting students with complex special education needs.
  • Elementary/ secondary school staff (including educators, custodial, school bus drivers, administrative staff)
  • Workers responding to critical events (including police, fire, special constables, children’s aid society workers, emergency management, critical infrastructure restoration workers)
  • Enforcement, inspection and compliance roles (including by-law enforcement, building inspectors, food inspectors, animal welfare inspectors, border inspection officers, labour inspectors/WSIB field workers)
  • Individuals working in childcare as follows:
  • All licensees, employees and students on an educational placement who interact directly with children in licensed childcare centres and in authorized recreation and skill building programs.
  • Licensed home childcare and in-home service providers, employees of a home childcare agency and students on an educational placement • Foster care agency workers (including customary care providers)
  • Food manufacturing and distribution workers • Agriculture and farm workers
  • Funeral, crematorium and cemetery workers

Dr. Mackie admits the large number of individuals soon to become eligible for vaccination could test the local appointment booking system.

“The volume of booking on that date on Thursday, is likely to lead to some various forms of frustrations from people having trouble navigating the website or their browser issues or whatever,” he admits.

Telephone booking capacity remain limited, so Dr. Mackie encourages people to use the online system.

The Health Unit will have its IT team on standby Thursday morning in the event there are issues.

Dr. Mackie emphasizes that those who currently qualify for the shot should book before the anticipated surge of bookings starts on Thursday.

“I want to ask everyone who is currently eligible, everyone in the high risk category, everyone who is 55 and above and anyone else who is eligible please make sure you book your appointment as soon as possible.”