LONDON, ONT. -- As of 8 a.m. Thursday, eligible essential workers 50+, can book their first dose of COVID-19, as part of group one in phase two of the vaccine roll-out.

Essential workers who cannot work from home will have the opportunity to book a vaccine appointment at one of London-Middlesex’s three mass clinics.

Wayne Bryce, a phase one eligible person, got his first dose on Wednesday evening at the Agriplex.

’(feels) Good, good, just doing my part. Never took a flue shot before but thought, better take this one.”

The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) lowered the vaccine eligible age from 55-years old to 50-years old, as of Thursday.

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

Food manufacturing and distribution includes any large food factories in the region.

Dr. Alex Summers, Medical officer of health for MLHU, said it was added to the list after large outbreaks were reported at food facilities across Canada and Ontario.

“Large outbreaks have been seen at food manufacturing because of the close proximity people work, and the large number of people within those workplaces.”

In east London, the Cargill poultry processing plant had more than 100 employees test positive at its peak.

Summers adds that front-line retail workers, in places like grocery store or restaurants are not included in group one but are in group two.

“We anticipate that the second group will be eligible over the next week or two.”

When it comes to proving eligibility among essential workers, Dr. Alex Summers, says responsibility currently lays with the employers across the job sectors.

“We have asked employers to pre-register their organization…Tomorrow for those groups who preregistered, we will be sending eligibility booking information to those employers who can send to their workers.”

Summers says the booking system is ready, but adds that people may have to be patient as the the site is currently booking for up to four weeks from now.

Wei Liu said it took him a little a couple weeks to get his vaccine after booking. “I booked May 3 or 2 I think.”

Wayne Bryce said it only took him 24 hours, as he booked his appointment the night before getting his first dose.

Summers says those who have pre-registered, should receive their booking information by email this evening

He adds that as more occupants become eligible, the health unit will be moving to an honour system along with the province in coming future.