By Shira Rubinoff
BELLEVILLE – Hastings and Prince Edward County Public Health Unit said Wednesday more than 77,000 people in the county had received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
This represents 43 percent of the population for the region. According to the health unit’s COVID-19 dashboard , nine percent of those vaccinations were given to people age 19-39.
This news comes on the heels of the government’s decision to expand the eligibility for individuals 18 and older beginning Tuesday. This is giving younger people the opportunity to book and receive their vaccinations a week ahead of the initially projected schedule made by the Ontario government.
The opening up of the vaccine criteria means Loyalist students now become eligible.
Katelyn Norton, a 20-year-old Loyalist student, said she struggled with booking her first vaccine appointment.
“It was a little (difficult), they ask multiple questions, and in trying to find a place, I ended up (having) to go to Napanee to get mine,” Norton said, adding it will take place on June 1.
Norton is in the accelerated personal support worker program. Norton is learning to work in hospitals and long-term care facilities. Her training helps her recognizes the importance of getting inoculated.
“To be vaccinated when going into long-term care homes is good for the residents and for us, to keep us safe,” Norton said.
Another student in the same program, 29-year-old Sarah Gordon, said she has not yet tried to book her vaccine appointment.
For some, the process of signing up is not easy. Others have turned to social media to express their frustration.
My boyfriend was 40th in line to register to get a vaccine, for 18+, here in ON, and ALL the vaccine booking times were GONE in Kingston, Napanee, & Belleville, by the time he had was able to book… like, what? @fordnation 
— Shelby (@Lefty_Mind) May 18, 2021 
According to the health unit’s website , if there are no appointments available, individuals should check back regularly either on the provincial booking website  or by phone at 1-833-943-3900 .