Amid the seventh wave of COVID-19, driven by the Omicron BA.5 subvariant, Ontario is expanding eligibility for second booster doses to adults aged 18 and over.
Starting on Thursday, July 14 at 8:00 a.m., eligible individuals can book an appointment through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900. Appointments can also be scheduled directly through public health units that use their own booking systems, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics and participating pharmacies. Appointments are based on availability, which may vary by region, provincial officials said.
“Expanding eligibility to second booster doses and providing continued access to testing will empower Ontarians to make the best decisions for their circumstances and help keep our communities safe,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Staying up to date on vaccination is the best protection against severe outcomes from COVID-19.”
Second booster doses are being offered at an interval of five months after an individual receives their first booster dose. High-risk individuals who should get their second booster dose as soon as possible include individuals aged 60 and over; First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and over;
Residents of a long-term care home, retirement home, or Elder Care Lodge and older adults living in other congregate settings that provide assisted-living and health services; and individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.
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 variants. Ontarians are encouraged to speak with their health care provider about whether getting a second booster dose now is right for them.
The province will also continue to provide free rapid antigen tests to the general 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 December 31.
As of July 11, more than 33 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the province, with more than 93 per cent of Ontarians aged 12 and over having received at least one dose, more than 91 per cent having received a second dose and more than 57 per cent having received a booster.
As of July 8, Ontario has distributed more than 238 million free rapid antigen tests, with more than 140 million going to highest risk settings, schools and licensed child care, essential industries and small and medium-sized businesses. More than 98 million free rapid antigen tests have been distributed to the public through participating grocery and pharmacy retailers and targeted distribution to high priority communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the virus.
Publicly-funded PCR testing remains accessible for high-risk individuals including as a qualifier for accessing treatment such as antivirals. To learn more about COVID-19 treatments and determine if you are eligible, use Ontario’s antiviral screener tool or call 811.