Omicron vaccination boosters

Provinces should prepare for rapid deployment of second boosters: NACI

Canadians are being advised to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines by receiving all doses recommended for them—including boosters.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending that residents of long-term care homes (or other congregate living settings for seniors), as well as adults 80 and over living in the community, be prioritized for second booster doses.

The NACI also recommends that provinces and territories should prepare for rapid deployment of second booster doses, which may include adults 70-79 years of age and adults younger than 70 years of age from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities.

According to a statement from the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health (CCMOH), an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine booster dose can provide longer-lasting protection and possibly better effectiveness against variants, even if one has been previously infected with COVID-19.

“Staying up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines provides you with strong protection against severe illness and hospitalization and helps to reduce the overall impact and severity at the population level,” the statement reads, adding that, although Canada is moving forward, the pandemic is not over, and the SARS-CoV2 virus continues to circulate and evolve.

“The BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron is now the dominant variant in many communities in Canada. Several jurisdictions are experiencing an increase in cases as we transition to a more sustainable approach to managing COVID-19 by easing public health measures.”

In Ontario, the vaccine passport system and mask mandates ceased in most indoor public settings last month; the province has since seen COVID-19 hospitalizations rising.

On Tuesday, Ontario reported 1,091 patients in hospital who tested positive for COVID-19, an increase from the 857 reported on Monday and 778 last week Tuesday. Of those cases, 173 are in intensive care (an increase of eight cases from one week ago today). It’s the first time since late February that COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ontario have surpassed 1,000.

The province also reported nine new deaths on Tuesday.

Provincial health minister Christine Elliott noted on Tuesday that Ontario will announce a plan tomorrow to expand vaccine eligibility—to soon make fourth COVID-19 vaccine doses available to residents 60 and older (fourth doses in Ontario are currently available to long-term care/retirement home residents and immunocompromised individuals).

In Toronto, Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s Medical Officer of Health, is recommending that people wear masks in public spaces as Ontario works to deal with the sixth wave of the pandemic.

“Wear the best quality mask that you have access to, and ensure that it fits well,” De Villa said during a press announcement in Toronto on Monday.

She added that wearing a mask is a simple thing that we can all do, “especially if you’re older, have older people in your life, have a serious health condition or are simply indoors with people you don’t know.”

Meanwhile, some are wondering where Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, is.

“First, it’s time for Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer, to resurface. Recently, he stopped his weekly briefings. Some think that, with an Ontario election in June, he’s been muzzled. Resurface, Dr. Moore—if only for your own reputation.”

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

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO