Photo By: Mat Napo from Unsplash

This week, the Government of Ontario released updated vaccination guidelines including newly released data regarding eligibility for a third vaccine, making it the first province in Canada to begin offering booster doses. 

The new guidelines, available on the Ontario Ministry of Health website, identify the following at-risk populations as the highest priority for a booster vaccine:

– Vulnerable older adults in congregate settings

– Older adults in the community

– Healthcare workers

– First Nations, Inuit and Métis adults

– Recipients of a viral vector vaccine or series

As of Nov. 6, all members who fall into one of these categories and have also received their second vaccine dose more than six months ago are eligible to book their booster dose appointment through the Ontario vaccination portal or their local public health unit. 

While some evidence suggests that immunity starts to wear off after approximately six months, a statement released by Ontario officials assured that protection from two doses is still very effective against severe illness and death, and a booster dose would provide additional protection in milder cases of illness.

“For me personally, I’m happy to [get a booster shot] especially working in healthcare,” said Riffy Jean Masusi, a screener with the Niagara Health System. “Anyone working in healthcare needs all the protection they can get, especially since there’s so much we don’t know about other variants that are out there.”

As of Nov. 2, Ontario has administered more than 150,000 booster doses and currently sits at an 84 per cent vaccination rate for eligible individuals.

“I think it would be nice if it was mandated, but I know there are a lot of people out there who don’t even want their first dose. Having a third dose as a requirement doesn’t seem [like a] good idea,” said Anika Cordero, a registration clerk with the Niagara Health System. “A lot of people are doubting the vaccine in general, but [this isn’t] new. You need your vaccines to go to school or work in certain places. This is how the world works.”

Currently, only individuals above the age of 12 years are eligible for vaccination. Once approved by Health Canada, the province plans to begin rolling out vaccinations for those under 12 and hopes to offer booster doses to people of all ages in the early months of 2022.