Ontario COVID-19 booster shot eligibility expanded

Ontario is opening up eligibility for fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to all adults aged 18 and up this week, however the province’s chief medical officer of health says that healthy adults may want to wait until the fall.

Dr. Kieran Moore made the announcement late Wednesday morning, saying that individuals in this age group can book an appointment using the provincial system as of 8 am on July 14.

While appointments for fourth doses will be available to all adults six months after their third shot, or three months after a COVID-19 infection, Moore said it’s “not absolutely necessary” for individuals who do not have underlying health issues.

Healthy adults may want to wait until the fall when a “bivalent COVID-19 vaccine” may be available, Moore said.

“While we’re making this option available, it is important to note that healthy, currently vaccinated individuals, continue to have significant, persistent protection against severe disease even six months after the last dose,” he said.

“However, there may be individuals with personal or medical circumstances in those age groups who may benefit from an additional protection of a second booster.”

Anyone with questions about whether or not they should get a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine is being urged to contact their health-care provider.

Prior to this announcement, fourth doses were only available to people aged 60 and older, as well as immunocompromised individuals and Indigenous adults.

The news comes as Ontario enters a seventh wave of the pandemic, with a peak expected in the next in a few weeks, according to Moore.

Ontario has seen a steep increase in COVID-19 within wastewater as well as an increase in percent positivity, hospitalizations and ICU admissions in recent weeks. Moore told reporters the new wave is experiencing a “slower trajectory” compared to previous waves due to vaccination rates and the availability of new treatments.

Officials have also said they will continue to provide free rapid antigen tests to the general public at grocery stores and pharmacies until Dec. 31.

This is a developing news story. More to come.

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