Ontario is expected to reveal its intention to broaden COVID-19 booster vaccine eligibility, on Thursday.
Dr. Kieran Moore, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, will give an update on third doses for more Ontarians this afternoon.
What age groupings and high-risk groups will be included in the expansion is still unknown.
The provincial administration changed its plan for providing booster shots last month.
Individuals aged 70 and older, health-care workers, people who received two doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine or other viral vector vaccines, select immunocompromised individuals, and all Indigenous Peoples in the province can now book third dose appointments on the provincial booking site as of Nov. 6.
An individual must have received their second dose six months prior to receiving their third shot.
The government said booster shots for the general public would gradually be available based on age and risk factors, starting sometime in early 2022.
Justin Bates, president of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, says it’s possible that the province will expand eligibility to those 50 years and older.
“We do understand that NACI (National Advisory Committee on Immunizations) is about to make a recommendation this week, likely by Friday, that boosters should be recommended and encouraged for those that are 50 and above. And it’s very possible that the province will align with that same threshold,” he told CTV News Toronto on Thursday.
Bates says the government should open up eligibility to all residents 12 years and older and gradually administer third doses based on when individuals got their second shot, as age groups were given their first and second doses based on a staggered approach.
“That will allow us to do this in a staggered fashion, manage the demand and supply and make sure everybody has optimal immunity and efficacy of the vaccines against the variants because the immunity does wane after six months, we know that from the current data and that’s why boosters are going to be so important,” he says.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, infectious diseases specialist at Toronto General Hospital, has also said repeatedly over the last several weeks that the province should open up boosters to 50-plus.
“If you look at the Ontario and Canada data it’s pretty clear that we should be expanding the third dose eligibility to people 50 years and up and it sounds like that’s on the near horizon. I think that’s a good move,” he told CP24 on Thursday morning.
The move to expand booster eligibility comes after the emergence of the new omicron variant that was first discovered in South Africa last week.
In response to the new variant, which raises concern due to its high number of mutations, the federal government implemented travel restrictions against travellers from select countries in southern Africa.
Ottawa also re-imposed its COVID-19 testing requirement for all air travellers entering Canada, except those coming from the United States, which is set to come into effect “over the next few days.”