By Moira Warburton
(Reuters) -The Canadian province of Ontario will begin offering third COVID-19 vaccine doses to vulnerable people as early as this week, its chief medical officer said on Tuesday.
Eligible populations will include transplant patients, along with residents in high-risk settings, including long-term care homes and indigenous elder care lodges.
Canada has one of the best inoculation rates in the world, with more than 82% of eligible people having had one shot and 71% fully-vaccinated. Still, active cases are growing amid a Delta-driven fourth wave, fueling vaccine mandates.
Canada's most populous province is pausing its planned full reopening until further notice, the Ontario government said. The move would have removed capacity limits on business and social settings.
Third dose vaccinations could begin as early as this week in some areas, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore said.
The government is also mandating hospitals, long-term and community care service providers to require all employees, staff, contractors, students and volunteers to provide proof of full vaccination, a medical reason why they are not, or completion of a COVID-19 vaccine educational seminar.
Similar policies are expected in the coming weeks for post-secondary institutions, women’s shelters and other high-risk environments, the government said.
The government also said the education ministry intends to introduce a vaccination disclosure policy for all publicly funded school board employees, staff in private schools and childcare centers in the province, with rapid testing requirements for staff who are not vaccinated.
In the Canadian province of Quebec, Health Minister Christian Dubé told reporters on Tuesday that health care workers will need to be fully vaccinated by October 1.
Quebec lawmakers will discuss possible vaccine mandates next week for workers in contact with the public, like teachers.
Quebec will require masks for college and university students but has not made a decision on a similar mandate for elementary and high schools.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver. Additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)