Ontario opens bivalent COVID-19 booster appointments to all ages 12+ beginning Monday, flu shots begin Nov. 1
The recently approved Pfizer vaccine updated for the dominant variants of COVID-19 will be available to Ontarians over the age of 12 starting Monday – and flu shots will begin for the general public starting Nov. 1.
Health Minister Sylvia Jones has urged Ontarians to get their flu boosters and protection as soon as possible, with health officials predicting a resurgence of the flu after two years of pandemic containment and masking, who removed the virus.
« Colder weather is here, which means an increase in respiratory illnesses, » Jones said in a statement Thursday.
The shots come as the province braces for higher demand in the fall and winter at hospitals already strained by higher demand and staffing shortages, while colder weather pushes more indoor activities where it is easier for viruses to spread.
A leaked hospital emergency room statistics report, obtained by the Liberals, found that the number of patients waiting in hospital emergency rooms for beds averaged 884 people a day in August, or an increase of 53% compared to the same month last year. The Hospital for Sick Children said over the weekend that its intensive care unit had reached full capacity.
“Getting vaccinated remains the best defense against the flu and COVID-19 to help keep Ontarians healthy and out of hospitals,” Jones said. « It will also allow the province to continue its efforts to keep Ontario and its businesses open. »
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kieran Moore, told CP24 Thursday that « a fairly complex and challenging winter » is looming.
« COVID is not going away, it is a formidable enemy. »
Moore advised people to mask up in « high-risk » indoor public places.
To receive the new Pfizer bivalent booster, people must have received their first round of vaccinations.
Appointments can be booked online through the provincial immunization portal, local health units or at 1-833-943-3900.
Flu shots will be available at doctor’s offices, local health units and participating pharmacies. Some are already making an appointment. Flu vaccines can be given at the same time as COVID vaccinations.
Pfizer’s new bivalent vaccine targets the original strain of COVID-19 as well as the currently widely released BA.4 and BA.5 variants.
A bivalent Modera vaccine approved about six weeks ago and already widely used targets the original COVID and the first Omicron strain, which began circulating late last November.
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