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Province expands list of those eligible for third does of vaccine

Waterloo Region health officials are ramping up for a booster-shot program in the wake of last week’s provincial announcement of expanded eligibility for a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Residents here who meet the requirement can now make an appointment for the jab. The expanded list includes those over the age of 70, First Nations peoples, healthcare workers and designated essential caregivers, among others.

“Ontario is planning to expand eligibility for booster for all Ontarians over time. Evidence continues to show that a complete two-dose series provides strong protection against COVID-19 infection and severe outcomes, including against the Delta variant. Booster doses offer an additional layer of protection against the Delta variant we are seeing in our community,” said Dr. Julie Emili, associate medical officer of health, during the region’s weekly pandemic briefing November 5.

“We as a community have made great progress to push back against the Delta variant – more than 100,000 people in our community are not yet eligible for a vaccine or have not yet been vaccinated,” she added of a list that includes those under the age of 12. Shots will soon be available for children between the ages of 5 and 11.

“Keeping a low rate of infection in our communities and protecting our most vulnerable is how we can keep our schools, businesses and social settings as safe as possible while avoiding further lockdowns,” said provincial chief medical officer of health Kieran Moore in a statement released in conjunction with last week’s announcement of expanded third-dose eligibility. “To provide every individual the best protection while learning to live with the virus for the long-term, we are prepared to expand booster eligibility to all Ontarians pending clinical recommendations, with eligibility expanding this week to individuals who face a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.”

The province notes that during Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, a substantial population of eligible residents received their first and second doses at longer intervals than indicated. Longer intervals have now been shown to enhance the length of protection of the vaccine. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has since recommended an interval of eight weeks between first and second doses.

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