TORONTO – COVID-19 Update – With Health Canada approval of the Pfizer bivalent vaccine, everyone aged 12 and over is eligible to get a bivalent COVID-19 booster dose starting Monday, October 17 if they have completed their primary COVID-19 vaccine series. The Ontario government is reminding people to stay up-to-date with their vaccines as we enter respiratory illness season.
It is also important to get your annual flu shot. Starting November 1, flu shots will be available through your health care provider, public health unit and in participating pharmacies. Flu shots may safely be given at the same time, or at any time before or after COVID-19 vaccine. Find out more at ontario.ca/flu.
“The colder weather is here which means an increase in respiratory illnesses,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Getting vaccinated remains the best defence against the flu and COVID-19 to help keep Ontarians healthy and out of hospitals. This will also ensure the province can continue its efforts to keep Ontario and its businesses open.”
As Ontario receives its first shipments of the Pfizer bivalent vaccine from the federal government this week, Ontarians aged 12 to 17 will be able to receive their booster on Monday, October 17. Appointments can be booked now through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre (PVCC) at 1-833-943-3900. 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.
“We are entering into the fall season where traditionally we see a rise in cases of respiratory illness, including COVID-19,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Vaccines improve your immune response and reduce the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and post-infection symptoms. We recommend Ontarians stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations at the appropriate interval since their last dose, and get an annual flu shot when it becomes available.”
In addition to getting vaccinated, those over 60 years of age can also access antiviral treatments such as Paxlovid if they have COVID-19 symptoms. Learn more about COVID-19 treatments and review your eligibility by using Ontario’s antiviral screener tool, speaking with your health care provider or calling 811.
To help keep everyone as healthy as possible this fall and winter season, Ontarians should stay home when they are feeling sick and continue to practise good hand hygiene.
Publicly funded PCR testing remains accessible for high-risk individuals including as a qualifier for accessing antiviral treatment such as Paxlovid.
Getting a booster dose restores protection, as evidence shows vaccine protection decreases over time.
Boosters are particularly important for high-risk individuals, who should receive the booster three months after their last dose. Most Ontarians under the age of 65 should receive their booster dose at the recommended six-month interval. However, you can choose to book your next appointment three months after your last dose. All individuals aged 12 and over are eligible for a bivalent booster, which better protects against the currently circulating COVID-19 variants.
Individuals aged five years and older can receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as, or at any time before or after any other vaccines, including the flu shot. Children between six months and under five years are recommended to wait 14 days before or after the administration of another vaccine before getting their COVID-19 vaccine.
For questions about eligibility or booking a COVID-19 vaccine, speak with your health care provider or call 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) to speak to a health specialist.
For additional questions about vaccination, visit the VaxFacts Clinic to speak with a qualified Scarborough Health Network doctor or the SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service to book a confidential phone appointment with a SickKids Registered Nurse. More information on COVID-19 vaccines for children and youth can be found here.
For more information about treatment options for COVID-19, contact your primary care provider, visit a clinical assessment centre, or call Health Connect Ontario at 811 or 1-866-797-0007 (toll-free TTY) for more information on treatments, assistance, or eligibility for virtual care options.