Ontarians aged 5+ now eligible for bivalent booster
Tim Brody - Editor
The provincial government announced on Dec. 15 that, “With the Health Canada approval of a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine for five to 11 year-olds, all Ontarians aged five and over are eligible to book a bivalent booster dose starting December 21.”
The provincial government is strongly encouraging Ontarians to keep up to date with their flu and COVID-19 vaccinations, “to restore protection that may have decreased since a previous dose, which remains the best way for people to stay healthy this winter and prevent unnecessary visits to the hospital.”
“As the weather gets colder and more people spend time with their loved ones indoors this holiday season, vaccination remains the most effective way we can protect ourselves from the most serious effects of COVID-19 and influenza,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health in a Dec. 15 news release. “Vaccines provide strong protection against severe illness from COVID-19 and its variants and will help ease pressures on our hospitals and emergency departments.”
“A COVID-19 bivalent booster targets the original COVID-19 virus and provides better protection against the other variants currently circulating. Flu shots can also be safely given at the same time, or at any time before or after a COVID-19 vaccine for individuals aged six months and older. Find out more at ontario.ca/flu,” the provincial government shared.
“Appointments can be booked via the COVID-19 vaccination portal (https://www.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/) or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre (PVCC) at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007). Parents and caregivers can book for their child. 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,” the provincial news release informed.
The Northwestern Health Unit informed on Dec. 15 that it does not yet have the bivalent vaccine for 5–11-year-olds, informing that those interested in getting this vaccine can call their local health unit office to set up an appointment for the new year.
Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health, stated, “I recommend Ontarians stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations at the appropriate interval since their last dose and get an annual flu shot.”
The Government of Ontario also informed:
• Ontarians aged five and older and not at high-risk of severe COVID-19 illness are recommended to get a booster dose this respiratory illness season if it has been six months since their last dose.
• Ontarians at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness are recommended to get a booster dose this respiratory illness season if it has been three months since their last dose.
• Individuals can access Ontario’s antiviral screener tool to help determine if they are at higher risk and should be assessed for treatment. A positive rapid antigen test, PCR or rapid molecular test is required as part of the assessment for antiviral treatment. Rapid antigen tests will remain available for pick up at no charge until June 30, 2023, from over 3,000 retail locations in the province. PCR tests are available at any provincial testing location to eligible groups.
• Pharmacists are able to prescribe Paxlovid to eligible individuals in-person or virtually (such as by telephone) at no cost. Eligible individuals should contact their local pharmacy to confirm if they prescribe Paxlovid and how to get a prescription for Paxlovid.
• Clinical assessment centres continue to be available to assess patients with cough, cold, flu and COVID-19 symptoms as well as to test, prescribe and dispense antivirals for COVID-19.
• Parents are reminded to also stick to the Ontario routine immunization schedule. If your child missed vaccinations or if you are unsure about which vaccinations they have received, contact your health care provider or public health unit to get their vaccination schedule back on track.
• If you have questions about vaccinating your child, book a confidential conversation with a registered nurse through the SickKids COVID19 Vaccine Consult Service at www.sickkids.ca/vaccineconsult or 1-888-304-6558 (appointments are available in multiple languages).