TORONTO: Based on guidance from Health Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), the Ontario government is offering the bivalent COVID-19 booster dose to all Ontarians aged 18 and over, beginning with the most vulnerable populations.
“The bivalent COVID-19 booster is a safe and effective way for people to better protect themselves against the most recently circulating COVID-19 variants in Ontario,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “As vaccine protection decreases over time, I encourage all Ontarians aged five and over to receive the booster dose they are eligible for.”
With immediate effect, bivalent COVID-19 booster appointments will be available to and can be booked for the most vulnerable populations, including:
• individuals aged 70 and over;
• residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, Elder Care Lodges and individuals living in other congregate settings that provide assisted-living and health services;
• First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and over;
• moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals aged 12 and over;
• pregnant individuals aged 18 and over; and
• health care workers aged 18 and over.
To prioritize distribution to these populations, new booster appointments for Ontarians aged 18 and over will be paused until September 26. However, to allow for convenient planning and preparation, individuals 18 years of age and older who do not belong to a priority population can start booking their appointments today, the availability of which is based on shipment schedules and supply from the federal government. All previously-booked booster appointments for September 12 to 25 will be honoured and, if available, the bivalent vaccine will be offered.
Individuals can receive the bivalent booster at the recommended interval of at least six months from their previous dose, regardless of how many boosters they have already received.
Appointments can be booked through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre (PVCC) at 1-833-943-3900. Eligible individuals can also book an appointment directly through public health units that use their own booking systems, Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, participating health care providers and participating pharmacies. Pregnant individuals and health care workers booking from September 12 to 25 must call the PVCC or book booster dose appointments through participating pharmacies.
Long-term care, retirement home and Elder Care Lodge residents may receive their bivalent booster dose directly through the congregate home where they live.
“With the start of the respiratory illness season, it is especially important to make sure people stay up to date with their vaccines,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters are the best tool to keep people healthy and out of hospitals, and to ensure Ontario’s economy stays open as kids go back to school and as the weather cools and people spend more time indoors.”
The bivalent vaccine, along with continued access to testing and antivirals and updated public health guidance, gives Ontarians the tools they need to make the best decisions for themselves on how to stay safe, healthy and out of hospitals as the province continues its efforts to support the recovery and rebuilding of the health system.
• The province is preparing to provide free flu shots to Ontarians this fall so they can protect themselves and reduce the number of hospitalizations due to influenza.