MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- The Middlesex-London Health Unit saw tremendous response after opening up vaccinations to area residents over the age of 80.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie tweeted that all appointments for the next two weeks were booked within two hours of the appointments being made available at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

That's over 5,000 appointments.

The health unit says it  fielded over 200,000 calls, prompting some system outages, and the booking website saw nearly 30,000 hits with no "significant" outages. Both are now closed for the day.

Appointments will begin Saturday at the Western Fair District Agriplex and the Caradoc Community Centre in Mount Brydges.

Mackie added that, "Because of uncertainty in vaccine supply, we are not booking out more than two weeks."

So booking for appointments on March 17 will open Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. and are expected to fill up quickly.

Appointments can be booked online at www.covidvaccinelm.ca or by calling 226-289-3560 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Annarita Jordan and her husband Fred spent about half an hour on the phone and then online booking an appointment for her parents.

“I am very happy they are going to get vaccinated,” said Jordan. “If you’re going to help a loved one or a senior make sure you have all of your information ready, a health card and number, the date of birth, the address, postal code and the process will go by quicker.”

On Monday the health unit announced it would be expanding vaccinations to those over 80, Indigenous adults over 55 and additional health care workers.

Details on who is eligible and other information on the local vaccination program are available here.

Local MPP among vaccinators

Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek is among many health-care volunteers aiding with the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Yurek, who remains a registered pharmacist, has volunteered his time to work at vaccination clinics.

Although he is currently spending four days of his week at Queen’s Park, Yurek says he has offered his services to two local health units.

His first shift was this past Friday.

“I was at the London Agriplex for a shift vaccinating folks and I will be volunteering my time at the clinics in St. Thomas when they open and other clinics in London.”

Yurek says he is elated to see vaccinations taking place, as are those receiving it.

“People are overjoyed to get it!”