The Ontario government is expanding eligibility for booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to additional groups of high-risk individuals starting November 6, 2021, providing them with an extra layer of protection against the Delta variant.
While the province continues to report one of the lowest rates of active cases in the country and continues to make steady progress in vaccinating more individuals, offering the extra layer of protection provided by a booster dose will contribute to the fight against COVID-19.
“Keeping a low rate of infection in our communities and protecting our most vulnerable is how we can keep our schools, businesses and social settings as safe as possible while avoiding further lockdowns,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “To provide every individual the best protection while learning to live with the virus for the long-term, we are prepared to expand booster eligibility to all Ontarians pending clinical recommendations, with eligibility expanding this week to individuals who face a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.”
The province will begin offering booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the following vulnerable populations if at least six months have passed since their last dose:
- Individuals aged 70 and over (born in 1951 or earlier);
- Health care workers and designated essential caregivers in congregate settings (including long-term care home and retirement home staff and designated caregivers);
- Individuals who received a complete series of a viral vector vaccine (two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine or one dose of the Janssen vaccine); and
- First Nation, Inuit and Métis adults and their non-Indigenous household members.
Booster doses are being offered to these groups based on evidence of gradual waning immunity six months after receiving their second dose and a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Starting on Saturday, November 6 at 8 a.m., eligible individuals will be able to book their booster dose appointment through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, directly through public health units that use their own booking systems, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, select pharmacies, and primary care settings. Hospital-based health care workers are encouraged to reach out to their hospital employer to get vaccinated directly through their hospital’s vaccination program.
While the COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, the province is prepared to expand eligibility for a booster dose to all Ontarians over time. Based on Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout for first and second doses, expansion of eligibility for booster doses will be based on age and risk, with an interval of six to eight months from the second dose.
“Ontario is continuing the success of our vaccine rollout by expanding eligibility for a booster shot based on age and risk,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said. “As we continue rolling out our Last Mile Strategy to vaccinate as many Ontarians as possible, providing an extra layer of protection starting with our most vulnerable is critical as we continue to safely reopen and manage COVID-19 for the long-term.”
During the height of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, a large population of Ontarians received their first and second doses at a longer interval than indicated on the product monograph. This longer interval has now been shown to improve duration of protection, and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization now recommends an optimal interval of eight weeks between first and second doses.
“The expansion of eligibility for booster shots is one more step that our government is taking to protect Ontarians and keep our communities safe,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said. “As with the initial administration of COVID-19 vaccines, the phased rollout of booster shots ensures that vulnerable groups are prioritized and can easily access booster shots through pharmacies, clinics and health care providers.”
If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007), which is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and capable of providing assistance in more than 300 languages.