Children aged 5 to 11 now eligible for first COVID-19 booster dose
Tim Brody - Editor
The Ontario government is expanding eligibility for COVID-19 first booster doses to children aged five to 11 and making changes to COVID-19 isolation requirements.
As of September 1, parents and caregivers of children aged five to 11 will be able to book an appointment for a paediatric COVID-19 booster dose through the COVID-19 vaccination portal (https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/) or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.
The Government of Ontario shared that 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.
“Eligible children can receive their first booster dose at a recommended interval of at least six months following their most recent dose. Parents with questions are encouraged to reach out to their health care provider, the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre or the SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service (https://bit.ly/3COUsSW - Toll-free: 1-888-304-6558) to make an informed choice for their family,” the provincial government shared.
“Staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters is still the best tool to keep people healthy and out of hospitals, and to ensure Ontario’s economy stays open,” stated Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health in an August 31 news release (https://bit.ly/3CQMVTH). “Expanding access to boosters for ages five to 11 will give parents more opportunities to protect themselves, their families and their communities this fall as kids go back to school and as people are spending more time indoors.”
“In anticipation of the approval of a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, which may offer more targeted protection against the Omicron variants, the province is working with public health units and sector partners to make sure doses are ready to be administered once supply is received from the federal government. Details on timing and eligibility for the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine will be communicated once Health Canada provides additional information and guidance,” the province shared.
The Government of Ontario also shared that, on the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ontario is updating public health guidance to manage COVID-19 during the respiratory illness season this fall. Some key highlights include:
- If you are in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, continue to self-monitor for symptoms. There is no longer a need to isolate but you should wear a mask for 10 days when in public.
- If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough, or runny nose, stay home from school, work and social events until your fever is gone and symptoms are improving, get a rapid antigen test or, if eligible, a PCR test. Wear a mask for 10 days after and avoid non-essential visits to high-risk individuals and settings.
“While we are updating our public health guidance, preventing COVID-19 and other infections is vital to keeping our families, schools and communities safe and healthy,” stated Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “I strongly encourage all Ontarians to take advantage of vaccine and booster doses that are recommended and available to them, which now includes the availability of a booster dose for children aged five to 11. Ontarians are also encouraged to protect one another by respecting public health guidance, including staying home and taking precautions if you are sick.”
The province further shared:
- Individuals aged 18 and over are eligible for their second booster dose at a recommended interval of five months since their first booster dose.
- Individuals aged 12 and over who are immunocompromised are recommended to receive their second booster at an interval of six months since their first booster.
- It is recommended that high-risk individuals including individuals aged 60 and over, First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and over, residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, or Elder Care Lodges and older adults living in other congregate settings that provide assisted-living and health services, and individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised get their second booster as soon as possible.
- The province is preparing to provide flu shots to Ontarians this fall so they can protect themselves and reduce the number of hospitalizations due to influenza.
- If you have questions about COVID-19 vaccines, please 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.
- If you have questions about vaccinating your child, speak with your health care provider or contact the COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service at sickkids.ca/vaccineconsult or 1-888-304-6558 to book a confidential phone appointment with a SickKids’ Registered Nurse or the Scarborough Health Network VaxFacts Clinic at shn.ca/vaxfacts or 416-438-2911, ext. 5738 to speak with a qualified physician.
- For more information about treatment options, contact your primary care provider, visit a clinical assessment centre, or call Health Connect Ontario at 811 or 1-866-797-0007 (toll-free TTY) for more information on treatments, assistance, or eligibility for virtual care options.
The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) shared in an August 31 update to the COVID-19 Local Data page of its website (https://www2.nwhu.on.ca/covid-19/data/), that the NWHU 7-day average area percent positivity rate was 22.4. One active case of COVID-19 was reported in the Sioux Lookout Local Health Hub (off reserve).
Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA), in an August 31 update to the COVID-19 page of its website (https://www.slfnha.com/covid/), was reporting 348 active cases across communities it serves.
People can find out more about booking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment with NWHU at https://bit.ly/3cGQq4A. SLFNHA is asking community members in the First Nations it serves to call their local vaccine coordinator or nursing station to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.