DAN CEARNS, The Standard

NORTH DURHAM/KAWARTHA: The Ontario provincial government announced, on Wednesday, July 13th, they are expanding eligibility for a fourth dose or second booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine to people aged 18 and over.

“Starting on Thursday, July 14th at 8 a.m., eligible individuals can book an appointment through the [online] COVID-19 vaccination portal, covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine, or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, at 1-833-943-3900. Eligible individuals can also book an appointment directly, through public health units [which] use their own booking systems, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics and participating pharmacies. Appointments are based on availability, which may vary by region,” a provincial press release stated.

Those looking to get a fourth dose will need to have waited for five months since they have received their previous booster dose.

“Expanding eligibility to second booster doses and providing continued access to testing will empower Ontarians to make the best decisions for their circumstances and help keep our communities safe,” Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said in a statement. “Staying up to date on vaccination is the best protection against severe outcomes from COVID-19.”

Previously, the second booster dose was only available to residents aged 60 and over, and First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals.

However, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit’s medical officer of health, Dr. Natalie Bocking said, at a recent virtual information session, there are a number of people who have yet to receive their first booster dose of the vaccine.

“[The] Key message, if you haven’t received your first booster dose, now is the time to do it. We are seeing increased [COVID-19] activity, and we know the benefit of that first booster dose is important,” Dr. Bocking stressed.

In other vaccine news, recently, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced on Twitter, Health Canada has approved “the use of Moderna’s Spikevax Covid-19 Vaccine in children six months to five years of age.”