Ford to make announcement about COVID-19 booster shots Wednesday: Source

Premier Doug Ford is expected to make an announcement Wednesday about booster shots as Ontario looks to ramp up its third-dose vaccination campaign.

Ford’s cabinet is set to meet Wednesday morning.

A government source tells CP24 that he will have an announcement the same day about booster shots.

It is believed that Ford will detail the province’s plans to dramatically expand capacity for administering booster shots to Ontarians.

The province started giving out third doses on Nov. 6 to those who are 70 and older, frontline health-care workers, those who previously received two doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine and First Nations.

On Monday, the province expanded eligibility to include those who are 50 and up.

Provincial officials have said that all Ontarians 18 and over will become eligible on Jan. 4, but there has been some speculation that eligibility for that group could be brought forward amid concerns over the more infectious Omicron variant, which appears to do a better job of getting past two vaccine doses.

On Monday night Ontario Hospital Association President Anthony Dale said hospitals in the province are moving to implement instructions to “urgently” reactivate their mass vaccination programs, even at the cost of other clinical services.

He reiterated in a statement Tuesday that there is no other choice since the province is in a “race against time” with the variant.

“Unfortunately, the healthcare system is anticipating and actively planning for a significant increase in patients with covid related critical illness (CRCI) in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) through December and into January,” Dale said in the statement.

He said that in order to do so, hospitals will use “targeted community-based initiatives utilizing lessons learned from previous waves.”

“To do so will require a large number of health care workers to perform vaccination duties and this will have a major impact on other clinical services,” Dale said. “Mass vaccination is the best way to protect the people of Ontario from the threat posed by Omicron and it will take a strong collaboration among hospitals, primary care, pharmacies, municipalities and the private sector if we are to be successful.” 

Health officials have warned that Omicron could be the dominant variant in Ontario by the end of the week. On Tuesday, Ontario’s top doctor said that a province-wide approach could be needed in order to contain the spread of the variant. He said there would be a discussion in the coming days about what steps that might include.

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