Starting Monday, children aged between six months to under five years old can receive the new pediatric Pfizer vaccine, while all adults 18 and over can receive the bivalent booster vaccine, Ontario's Ministry of Health said.
A news release from the ministry said the bivalent booster vaccines may offer more targeted protection against COVID-19 Omicron variants.
"With the start of the fall and winter respiratory illness season, it is especially important to make sure people stay up to date with their vaccines," Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Sylvia Jones said in a statement.
"COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters are the best tool to keep people healthy and out of hospitals, and to ensure Ontario's economy stays open as the weather cools and people spend more time indoors."
People eligible for a bivalent booster can receive it at a recommended interval of six months (168) days from their previous dose, or a minimum interval of three months (84 days), regardless of how many booster doses they already received, the ministry said.
It also "strongly" recommends vulnerable people aged 70 and older, and moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals aged 12 and over, to receive the bivalent booster as soon as they are eligible after speaking with their health-care provider.
While adults over 18 were able to book bivalent booster appointments since Sept. 12, the province said it would prioritize vulnerable groups until Sept. 26.
New pediatric vaccine available
The release also notes the new pediatric Pfizer vaccine will be available for children aged between six months to under five years old. The vaccine was approved by Health Canada on Sep. 9, and the province confirmed to CBC Toronto that the first shipment arrived last week.
Similarly, Moderna's pediatric vaccine for the same age group was approved in mid-July and made available in Ontario shortly after.
"We also know that getting your child vaccinated improves their immune response to COVID-19 infection and reduces the possibility of severe disease and hospitalization and post COVID-19 symptoms," said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health, in the release.
Despite the availability, only about six per cent of eligible kids have had their first dose — a number Moore previously said is lower than he thought he'd see by this point.
The ministry states the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for infants and children is a three-dose primary series with a recommended dosing interval of eight weeks between doses.
It stresses mixing vaccine products for infants or children's primary series doses is not recommended.
"Your child should receive the same product for all their primary series doses, whether it is Pfizer or Moderna," the release reads.
People eligible for a booster or pediatric vaccine can book through the COVID-19 vaccination portal, through the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, or directly through local public health units, Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, and at participating health-care providers and pharmacies.