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Second COVID-19 boosters now available for all adults – recommended for those who are vulnerable

As cases continue to slowly creep upward throughout the province, second COVID-19 vaccine booster doses will be available to all Ontarians aged 18 and over starting Thursday, July 14 and free rapid antigen tests will now be available until Dec. 31, 2022.

“While my call for arms remains for the most vulnerable in our communities (over age 60 or immuno-compromised), we’ve made the decision to expand eligibility for second boosters for all aged from 18 to 59,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health at a media briefing Wednesday morning. “But it is also important to note that healthy, currently vaccinated individuals continue to have significant, persistent protection against severe disease even six months after the last dose.” Those people, he noted may wish to wait until fall when it is anticipated an Omicron-specific vaccine will be available.

However, he added there are adults with personal or medical circumstances who may benefit from a second booster – such as those who live or work with the elderly or people who are immuno-compromised.

Second booster doses are offered at an interval of five months after an individual’s first booster dose or three months since a COVID-19 infection.

Moore said the pandemic waves seem to be coming every 90 days or so, and he expects a peak within the next two weeks and another wave this fall related to the new ba5 variant of Omicron.

Mask mandates are not being ruled out as the province continues to watch that capacity at hospitals is not threatened.

“Millions of Ontarians have not received all their recommended vaccinations,” said Moore. “Five million are yet to receive their first booster and 1.6 million have not received their second.”

In Hastings Prince Edward 63 per cent of the population over age 18 has had a third dose and 44 per cent (ages 60 and over) have received the fourth (second booster which has only been available to those over 60, long-term care or retirement home residents and the Indigenous).

In this region, 93 per cent of residents over age 18 have had a first vaccine and 88 per cent, a second vaccine.

Tuesday, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health reported 103 new high-risk setting cases in its weekly report and seven outbreaks in high-risk settings including facility-wide cases at H.J. MacFarland Home in Picton.

Moore added a new bivalent COVID-19 vaccine is anticipated to be approved by Health Canada this fall, which may offer more targeted protection against the Omicron variant.

Ontarians are encouraged to speak with their health care provider about whether getting a second booster dose now is right for them.

A pop-up clinic is set for Monday, July 18 at the skateboard park in Picton from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and at the Roblin Lake Park from 2-4 p.m. Appointments can also be booked through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.

Eligible individuals can also book an appointment directly through public health units that use their own booking systems, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics and participating pharmacies.

The Ontario government will also continue to provide free rapid antigen tests to the public through existing channels like grocery stores and pharmacies, as well as to workplaces, schools, hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes and other congregate settings until Dec. 31, 2022.

People with questions about vaccine eligibility, can contact the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007), which is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and capable of providing assistance in more than 300 languages.

Filed Under: Local News

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