The Ontario government, is introducing several measures to try to control as much as possible what is expected to be a significant uptick in COVID cases as winter approaches. Starting January 4, only a certificate of vaccination bearing the QR code will be acceptable for entry into restaurants, clubs and events. The QR code can be on a paper certificate or on the cell phone. The government has also put a process in place for persons who do not have a cell phone to get the certificate mailed to them. In addition, it means the plan to lift proof-of-vaccination will stay in place beyond January 17th which had been set as a possible date for lifting of the need for certificates.
The province also announced that medical exemptions issued outside of Ontario are not eligible for an enhanced vaccine certificate. This new process will help combat fraud. Organizations and businesses that are required to take part in Ontario’s proof-of-vaccination system will be advised to longer accept physician notes beginning January 10, 2022.
As of December 13, approximately 5.5 million Ontarians aged 50 and over will be eligible to receive their booster dose appointment if approximately six months have passed after their second dose.
Starting on Tuesday, January 4, 2022 at 8:00 a.m., individuals aged 18 and over will be eligible to schedule their booster dose appointment through the COVID-19 vaccination portal, by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, select pharmacies and primary care settings. Appointments will be booked for approximately six months (168 days) after a second dose.
The province says it has distributed over 34 million rapid tests to thousands of workplaces, hospitals, home and community care settings, long-term care homes, and schools and childcare centres across the province. Ontario has also procured an additional 11 million rapid tests- enough to vaccinate all public-school students.
In making the announcement Ontario Chief Medical Officer Dr, Kieran Moore said the Omicron variant is now representing 10 percent of cases detected and he expects it to become more dominant through the winter. The only bit of good news is that even as case counts rise sharply, hospitalizations and ICU cases have not risen to the levels seen last spring when the case count was roughly what it has been this week. Federal modelling suggests case counts in Canada could triple current levels.