Ontario’s top doctor has announced that fourth COVID-19 dose eligibility is being expanded to the aged 18 to 59 population starting July 14 at 8 a.m.
Dr. Kieran Moore made the announcement Wednesday morning and said people in this age group can now get a second booster if it has been five months since the last booster shot and at least three months since recovering from a recent infection.
The announcement comes as Ontario is well into the seventh wave of COVID-19 — driven by the BA.5 Omicron subvariant.
The new variant has increased in prevalence since early June and is now the dominant strain based on wastewater data, test positivity, hospitalization and ICU admissions, Moore said.
He also said the peak of this wave is expected to hit in the next two weeks.
However, Moore said this wave has a slower trajectory compared to previous waves and is expected to be less severe.
“Stay up to date with your COVID vaccinations,” Moore said, adding that the expanded eligibility is a “real call to arms” to those who have an underlying illness or are more at risk.
He said those who are young and healthy and who have had their first three shots will continue to have “very good” immunity in the next several months.
“You can seek independent consideration from your healthcare provider, but if you’re young, no underlying medical illness and have had your first two doses, so your primary series plus your booster, I think it’s fine to wait at present.”
“Your risk of hospitalization and severe outcomes at a population level is very, very low.”
Moore also said those healthy individuals can probably wait to receive their fourth dose in the fall.
When asked by reporters if Moore would consider re-implementing public health measures such as mask mandates, he said no.
“At this time no, we’re not considering recommending to government any further public health measures,” Moore responded. “I think Ontarians have been prudent, have been cautious. When I go indoors or take public transit, many people my age continue to wear a mask and I think that’s brilliant.”
Due to PCR testing restrictions, which no longer represent the true widespread number of infection, Moore said he estimates the number of cases to be at around 5,000. He said the true count is three to four times the amount of what the PCR testing reveals.
He also said COVID waves are coming in every 90 days and that the province is working on a fall preparedness plan. This will include a bivalent vaccine in the fall.
“If Ontarians get this second booster dose, we will have a minimum separation between the fall dosing and this dosing,” Moore said. “But it will not interfere with your eligibility for the fall which is a combined vaccine which may have two different strains of COVID-19 in it.”
The province has the capacity to vaccinate 100,000 people a day, Moore said, adding that roughly 16,000 doses were administered on Tuesday.
Rapid antigen tests will also continue to be available for free to the general public through grocery stores and pharmacies, workplaces, schools, long-term care homes and other congregate settings until the end of the year, Dec. 31, the government said.