Ontario is rapidly accelerating its booster dose rollout by expanding eligibility to all individuals aged 18 and over, as well as shortening the interval to three months following an individual’s second dose.
The province has also launched a holiday testing blitz to offer rapid antigen screening to individuals free of charge at pop-up sites across the province, as well as select LCBO stores across Ontario.
Ontarians can visit Ontario.ca/holidaytesting to find out if pop-up rapid antigen screening sites will be available in their area. Locations and operating hours will be updated weekly, and no appointment will be required.
Starting Monday, December 20, individuals aged 18 and over will be eligible to schedule their booster dose appointment through Ontario’s booking portal, by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, participating pharmacies and primary care settings. Appointments will be booked three months (84 days) after a second dose as the province urgently expands booster eligibility to millions more individuals. Additionally, pharmacies and other channels may provide boosters for 18 and over at the three-month interval for walk-ins.
In addition, individuals aged 50 and over as well as all those currently eligible who have already booked their appointment at an interval of six months (168 days) can call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre to re-book for an earlier date at the three-month interval and can change their appointment through Ontario’s booking portal starting on Monday.
“As we combat the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant, nothing matters more than getting these booster doses into people’s arms,” said Premier Doug Ford.
To quickly scale up capacity to administer up to previous peak vaccination capacity, the province has asked public health units, hospitals, pharmacists, primary care providers and other health care providers to ramp up additional vaccinations sites and prioritize the administration of first, second and booster doses across the province. The province is also partnering with additional health care providers and first responders to administer more shots in arms.
Ontario is engaging with large corporations who have the capabilities to implement workplace and community clinics to support the booster dose rollout for employees, their families and the local community.
In addition, the successful mobile vaccine clinic strategy will be expanded to meet the evolving challenges of COVID-19 and its variants.
The province will also be expanding the Stop the Spread Business Information Line to allow businesses to request vaccine supply to administer on-site for employees.
To further strengthen its response to Omicron, effective December 18, at 12:01 a.m. a 50 per cent capacity limit is being reintroduced in indoor areas of venues with a usual capacity of 1,000 or more including facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities; entertainment facilities such as concert venues, theatres and cinemas; racing venues; meeting and event spaces; studio audiences in commercial film and television production; museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions; casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; and fair, rural exhibitions, and festivals.