Queen’s Park has handed down details on who will be eligible for a COVID booster shot, with appointments to be made available by this weekend.
Public health officials said this morning that individuals aged 70 and up will be among those with access to a booster shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Health care workers and designated essential caregivers in congregate settings will also be offered a booster shot, as will adults living in First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities. Those who received two doses of an AstraZeneca vaccine will also be eligible for a booster shot.
Eligible individuals will be able to book a booster dose appointment as of Saturday, November 6. Appointments can be made through the COVID-19 vaccination portal, by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900, or directly through individual public health units that use their own booking systems. Select pharmacies will also offer booster shots to those eligible.
Individuals aged 70 and over are being prioritized based on an increased risk of gradual waning immunity six months after receiving their second dose, and a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Health care workers were included based on the higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 brought about by their work environments. First Nation, Inuit and Métis adults are being prioritized as these communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in Ontario.
“Keeping a low rate of infection in our communities and protecting our most vulnerable is how we can keep our schools, businesses and social settings as safe as possible while avoiding further lockdowns,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “To provide every individual the best protection while learning to live with the virus for the long-term, we are prepared to expand booster eligibility to all Ontarians, pending clinical recommendations, with eligibility expanding this week to individuals who face a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.”
Either Pfizer or Moderna’s mRNA vaccine could be used as a booster shot, depending on availability.
It is expected a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be offered to all Ontarians within the coming months.
While booster shots are soon to be offered to these select groups, they’re not the first to have access to it. In August, Ontario became the first province to offer a third dose to immunocompromised populations, and a booster shot for those at highest risk.
Last week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization released guidance on booster shots, stating those aged 80 and above should be offered a third dose, while those aged 70 and up, along with the other groups outlined above, may receive one.
As of Wednesday morning, over 88.3 per cent of Ontarians aged 12 and up have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 84.7 per cent have gotten their second dose. More than 11 million people living in Ontario are fully vaccinated.