Ontario Expands Third Dose Eligibility To All Adults at Three-Month Interval

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#onpoli #Omicron #Ontario

Ontario will make all adults who are three months out from their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine eligible for a booster shot by Monday, as it works to get a quickly worsening Omicron-fueled wave of the pandemic under control.

The government says that anyone 18 and up who got their second dose at least 84 days ago will be eligible to book their third dose as of Dec. 20.

“Just because this new enemy is on the offense, does not mean we can sit back and play defense. We cannot and we will not. We will meet this new enemy with full force because right now the best defense is a lightning fast offense,” Premier Doug Ford said during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. “I’m issuing a call to arms hospitals, public health units, doctors, nurses, dentists, paramedics, businesses, union workers, first responders and most importantly you. Everyone has a role to play in the next phase of our provincial COVID response. It’s all hands on deck and it starts with booster shots. Nothing matters more than getting these third shots in arms.”

As part of the government’s enhanced testing strategy, starting today up to two million rapid tests will be provided free of charge at pop-up testing sites in high-traffic settings such as malls, retail settings, holiday markets, public libraries, and transit hubs. Pop-up teams will be deployed at nearly 50 locations across the province, including some co-located with GO-VAXX mobile vaccine buses. Most sites will distribute free take-home rapid antigen test kits, subject to supply, and some will offer asymptomatic rapid antigen screening on-site. The government will also make take-home rapid tests available at select LCBO stores, starting with the busiest stores this week and with more stores being added in the coming days.

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.

The latest available data suggests that the Omicron variant is more transmissible than the Delta variant and will become the dominant variant by the end of the month. Early evidence suggests that a third dose or booster can further increase protection against severe illness and hospitalization. While cases were always expected to rise, the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant could put additional strain on Ontario’s hospital capacity, making it critical that all Ontarians receive their booster dose as soon as possible.

“Today’s announcement underlines our government’s ongoing priority to keep Ontarians safe while protecting our health care systems and communities from COVID-19 and its variants,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “We are expanding our efforts to include workplace and mobile vaccine clinics with the support of our health care and corporate partners as well as public health units, to ensure that first, second and booster doses are easily and conveniently accessible across the province to all Ontarians.”

“As we continue to learn more about the Omicron variant we need to do more to strengthen our defence against the virus, and vaccines are the most effective way we can do that,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “If you are eligible for a booster or have not yet had your first or second dose, please come forward to get vaccinated. It will provide you, your loved ones and your community with vital layer of protection throughout the winter season.”

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