COVID-19 booster shot: Ontario expands third vaccine eligibility to anyone 50 and older

Ontario is expanding eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots to any individuals 50 and older, starting Monday, Dec. 13.

"If you are eligible for a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, please book your appointment as soon as you can to provide yourself with an extra layer of protection," a statement from Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario's chief medical officer of health reads.

"If you have not yet received the vaccine, please do so today. This includes vaccinations for children aged five to 11. Achieving the highest vaccination rates possible remains our best tool to protect us, reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and fight the significant surge of new cases and the new Omicron variant."

When will booster shots be available?

People in Ontario age 50 and older will be able to book an appointment for 168 days after their second dose.

Individuals receiving dialysis (hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis) are eligible to receive their third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine if is has been 56 days since their second dose.

Additionally, effective immediately, the province is recommending re-vaccination with a new COVID-19 vaccine series, post-transplantation, for individuals who receive hematopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCT), hematopoietic cell transplants (HCT) (autologous or allogeneic), and recipients of CAR-T-cell therapy.

Appointments can be scheduled through the COVID-19 vaccination portal, by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre (1-833-943-3900), through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, select pharmacies and primary care settings.

In January 2022, Ontario will expand eligibility for booster doses based on age and risk, at an interval of six to eight months from the second dose.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine now available

The Ontario government has also indicated that, in an effort to vaccinate as many eligible individuals as possible, a "limited supply" of the single dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will be made available, beginning Thursday.

This vaccine will be available to people 18 and older who have an allergy or contraindication to mRNA vaccines or "at the request of an individuals who has not yet been vaccinated by contacting their public health unit."

Clinical trials for COVID-19 treatment

In addition to vaccination, clinical trials for the oral therapy for the treatment of COVID-19, molnupiravir, are underway at the University Health Network in Toronto and Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton.

This is a five-day oral treatment for "high-risk unvaccinated patients with mild to moderate COVID-19."

"Ontario is preparing a strategy for the deployment of approved treatments, ensuring access where it is most needed in the province," information from the provincial government reads.