Saying he was issuing a call to arms, Premier Doug For promised booster shots and rapid testing will be rapidly rolling out in medical and non-medical settings across Ontario, as quickly as the province can ramp up the necessary systems. The Ontario government is rapidly accelerating its booster dose rollout by expanding eligibility to all individuals aged 18 and over, as well as shortening the interval to three months following an individual’s second dose. Ontario is also launching a holiday testing blitz starting today to offer rapid antigen screening to individuals free of charge at pop-up sites across the province, as well as select LCBO stores across Ontario.
“As we combat the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant, nothing matters more than getting these booster doses into people’s arms” said Premier Doug Ford. “I am issuing a call to arms. We need every member of Team Ontario to stand tall and do their part as we work to protect our hard-fought progress and keep Ontarians safe.”
Boosters available to all 18-plus and only three months after second shot
Starting Monday, December 20, 2021, individuals aged 18 and over will be eligible to schedule their booster dose appointment through the Ontario’s booking portal https://covid19.ontariohealth.ca/ , by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, participating pharmacies https://covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations and primary care settings. Appointments will be booked three months (84 days) after a second dose as the province urgently expands booster eligibility to millions more individuals. Additionally, pharmacies and other channels may provide boosters for 18 and over at the three-month interval starting Friday, December 17, 2021 for walk-ins.
Existing appointments can be rescheduled earlier
In addition, starting today, individuals aged 50 and over as well as all those currently eligible who have already booked their appointment at an interval of six months (168 days) can call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre to re-book for an earlier date at the three-month interval and can change their appointment through Ontario’s booking portal starting on Monday.
Large venues go back to 50 percent capacity limits
Effective December 18, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. Ontario intends to introduce a 50 per cent capacity limit to the following indoor areas of venues with a usual capacity of 1,000 or more: facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities; entertainment facilities such as concert venues, theatres and cinemas; racing venues; meeting and event spaces; studio audiences in commercial film and television production; museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions; casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; and fair, rural exhibitions, and festivals. This measure is being taken to reduce opportunities for close contact in high-risk indoor settings with large crowds and when face coverings/masks are not always worn.
Pop-up testing throughout the communities
Up to two million rapid tests will be provided free of charge at pop-up testing sites in high-traffic settings such as malls, retail settings, holiday markets, public libraries and transit hubs. Pop-up teams will be deployed at nearly 50 locations across the province, including some co-located with GO-VAXX mobile vaccine buses. Most sites will distribute free take-home rapid antigen test kits, subject to supply, and some will offer asymptomatic rapid antigen screening on-site. The government will also make take-home rapid tests available at select LCBO stores, starting with the busiest stores this week and with more stores being added in the coming days.
Finding a pop-up test site
Ontarians can visit Ontario.ca/holidaytesting https://www.ontario.ca/page/pop-up-holiday-schedule-rapid-antigen-tests to find out if pop-up rapid antigen screening sites will be available in their area. Locations and operating hours will be updated weekly, and no appointment will be required.
Call to community to provide vaccination sites
The province has asked public health units, hospitals, pharmacists, primary care providers and other health care providers to ramp up additional vaccinations sites and prioritize the administration of first, second and booster doses across the province. The province is continuing to ramp up to administer 200,000 to 300,000 doses per day by next week based on demand. The province is also partnering with additional health care providers and first responders to support Ontario’s vaccination efforts and administer more shots in arms.
Workplace and Community clinics requested
Ontario is engaging with large corporations who have the capabilities to implement workplace and community clinics to support the booster dose rollout for employees, their families and the local community. Bruce Power, in partnership with Grey Bruce Health Unit, will be the first corporate-led vaccine clinic, starting the week of December 20. In addition, the successful mobile The province will also be expanding the Stop the Spread Business Information Line to allow businesses to request vaccine supply to administer on-site for employees. Businesses will need to meet certain criteria to ensure proper storage and safe administration of the vaccines, including availability of health human resources. More information on the corporate and mobile clinics will be available in the coming days.