Doug Ford vaccination

Ontario vaccine certificates aren’t going away anytime soon

On Friday, Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet announced that his government will delay the lifting of proof of vaccination requirements beyond Jan. 17, 2022, as they continue to monitor public health trends in Ontario.

In addition, the province is adjusting its COVID-19 response to strengthen the province’s proof of vaccination requirements, including taking the following measures:

  • Effective Jan. 4, 2022, Ontario will have to use the enhanced vaccine certificate with the QR code and the Verify Ontario app in settings where proof of vaccination is required. The QR code can be used digitally or by printing a paper copy. Individuals can download their enhanced certificate with QR code. For those who aren’t technologically savvy, they can call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre (1-833-943-3900) to have their vaccine certificates mailed to them, or visit a library or Service Ontario centre to receive a printed copy.
  • Beginning on Dec. 20, 2021, Ontario will require proof of vaccination for youth aged 12 to 17 years of age participating in organized sports at recreational facilities.

To strengthen the verification process for medical exemptions—organizations and businesses that are under the provincial proof-of-vaccination system will be advised to no longer accept physician exemption notes as of Jan. 10, 2022.

As of Dec. 13, 2021, Ontarians aged 50 and over will be eligible to schedule their booster appointments. Expanded booster dose eligibility to all Ontarians 18 years of age and older will occur on Jan. 4, 2022—appointments can be booked approximately six months after receiving a second dose.

As part of the province’s enhanced winter testing strategy, they’re launching a “holiday testing blitz” next week to offer voluntary rapid antigen screening to asymptomatic people free of charge. Two million rapid tests will be provided at pop-up testing sites in high-traffic settings, such as malls, retail settings, holiday markets, and transit hubs.

“Ontario, like other jurisdictions around the world, is seeing concerning trends in public health and health care indicators, and additional measures are required to protect our progress for the long-term,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health, noted on Friday. “By taking these actions, we can help to reduce the mobility of COVID-19 and its variants, protect public health and health system capacity and save lives. This is especially important as we enter the holiday season and spend more time with family and friends. We need to keep each other safe.”

Ontario reported 1,453 new COVID-19 cases on Friday—the highest daily count seen since the end of May. This is a moderate increase from the 1,031 cases reported last Friday and a 12.6% increase from the 1,290 cased reported yesterday. There are a total of 629,064 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario reported to date.

The province also reported an increase of 11 deaths (a 22.2% increase from the 9 deaths reported on Thursday.

Out of Friday’s new cases, the majority of people (718) were fully vaccinated, 613 were unvaccinated, 26 were partially vaccinated, and for 96 people—the vaccination status was unknown.

Friday’s report also shows that 195 cases were from Toronto, 109 in Ottawa, 95 in Kingston, 91 in York Region, 89 in Windsor-Essex, 89 in Peel Region, 73 in Simcoe Muskoka, and 68 in Halton, 54 in Hamilton, 52 in Middlesex-London (the remaining public health units reported less than 50 new cases).

There are 309 patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 234. According to Health Minister Christine Elliott, 234 are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 75 are fully vaccinated. There are 151 patients in ICU due to COVID-related critical illnesses and 90 patients in ICU on a ventilator due to COVID-related critical illnesses.

In Ontario, as of Friday morning, 24,304,272 vaccine doses have been administered—90.2% of Ontarians 12+ have one dose and 87.5% have two doses.

Although the Delta variant is the dominant strain in Canada, the spread of the Omicron is increasing. There are approximately 80 documented cases of Omicron in Canada to date.  As of Wednesday, Ontario reported 10 new cases of Omicron, for a total of 31 cases.

Click here for more COVID-19 Ontario news and here for where you could get rapid COVID-19 tests in Toronto (including a new drive-thru option).

Article exclusive to Streets Of Toronto