Boosters for high-risk individuals help protect against severe outcomes from COVID-19
TORONTO — Based on guidance from Health Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is recommending high-risk individuals receive their next COVID-19 booster dose this spring.
“Staying up to date with vaccinations continues to be our best defense against COVID-19 and I’m strongly encouraging everyone, especially those with an increased risk of severe infection, to get all boosters available,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “We are grateful to all Ontarians for taking the time to get vaccinated and I’m encouraging everyone to keep helping reduce the spread of respiratory illness by staying home when they feel sick, washing their hands often and covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze.”
Individuals in the following high-risk groups are recommended to book an appointment for a spring COVID-19 booster if it has been at least six months since their last dose or confirmed COVID-19 infection:
- Individuals aged 65 years and older;
- Residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, Elder Care Lodges, and other congregate living settings for seniors;
- Individuals aged 18 years and older living in a congregate care setting for people with complex medical care needs;
- Pregnant individuals;
- Individuals aged 18 years and older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised; and
- Individuals aged 55 years and older who identify as First Nations, Inuit, or Métis and their non-Indigenous household members aged 55 years and older.
Individuals 5 years and olderwho have not yet received a booster dosesince September 1, 2022, remain recommended to receive a booster dose if it has been at least six months since their last dose or confirmed COVID-19 infection. Recommendations for other individuals who are not high-risk and have already received a booster since September 1, 2022, will be available closer to Fall 2023.
Appointments can be booked via the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre (PVCC) at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007). The PVCC is capable of providing assistance in over 300 languages, and parents and caregivers can book for their children and dependents. Eligible individuals can also book an appointment directly through public health units that use their own booking systems, Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, participating health care providers and participating pharmacies.
- Evidence shows that vaccine protection decreases over time and decreases more quickly for higher risk groups.
- Individuals can access Ontario’s antiviral screener tool to help determine if they are at higher risk and should be assessed for treatment. A positive rapid antigen test, PCR or rapid molecular test is required as part of the assessment for antiviral treatment. Rapid antigen tests will remain available for pick up at no charge until June 30, 2023, from over 3,000 retail locations in the province. PCR testing is available at any provincial testing location to eligible groups.
- Antiviral treatments are available at no cost to Ontarians with a prescription and can be prescribed by a pharmacist, physician or nurse practitioner. Pharmacists are able to prescribe Paxlovid to eligible individuals in-person or virtually (such as by telephone) at no cost. Eligible individuals should contact their primary care provider, local pharmacy or call Health811 for more information.
- Parents are reminded to also ensure their children are up to date with routine immunization by following the Ontario routine immunization schedule. If your child missed routine vaccinations or if you are unsure about which vaccinations they have received, contact your health care provider or public health unit to get their vaccination schedule back on track.
- Visit ontario.ca/antivirals for more information on eligibility and to find local pharmacies that are dispensing Paxlovid.
- For resources in multiple languages to help local communication efforts in responding to COVID-19, visit Ontario’s COVID-19 communication resources webpage.
- Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect the people of Ontario from COVID-19.