Ontario lags behind its neighbors on eligibility for a COVID-19 fourth dose. but that may change

Toronto vaccine clinic

Ontario is yet to allow most adults under the age of 60 to receive a fourth COVID-19 vaccine shot, putting it at odds with the United States and Quebec and the province to widen eligibility to a doctor. prompting him to take legal action to obtain

With the increased transmission efficiency of the now dominant BA.5 omicron variant, coupled with a weak demonstration of the mRNA vaccine’s ability to prevent infection three or four months after injection, normal Ontario residents are not currently eligible for a fourth dose Health care workers, in particular, are asking for a chance to get another shot.

Ottawa family physician Dr. Neely Kaplan-Myrth says she registered 730 people to come to her office for a fourth dose of COVID-19 last week.

“But then I got a call from Ottawa Public Health on Friday saying the health ministry told them not to widen their fourth dose eligibility unless they were indigenous, immunocompromised or living in a mass setting, so I had to cancel,” Kaplan-Myth told CP24.

She said many of her patients are traveling to Quebec, where anyone 18 and older can get a fourth shot, as long as their last three months have passed.

In a letter sent to Ford Gov. this week, it urged the province to reduce eligibility to under 60.

“People are going to get COVID-19 two or three times, many of our patients are working in the community and who have children and the vaccine we gave them in December or January 1, we give them another one to get them. Vaccines can be given. Until October,” she said.

October is about when Canada’s chief medical officer and the National Advisory Council on Immunization are asking provinces to launch booster dose campaigns before the expected wave of COVID-19 transmission occurs.

Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table Dr. Fahad Razak told CP24 that there is evidence supporting an immediate expansion of vaccine eligibility, but there is also plenty of evidence that the province should wait until the fall.

“I understand and respect the voices of both sides here, but I truly believe we are in a time of scientific uncertainty.”

He said officials are likely to be in the waiting game, analyzing trends – some of which suggest a recent increase in COVID-19 transmission in Ontario – to determine whether to make a fourth dose available to all adults. would be the best.

“You want security to align when matters are most prevalent. Ideally you won’t get an additional vaccine for three to six months, and we have the next generation of vaccines coming in the fall – it’s basically July already,” he said.

If Ontario doesn’t extend eligibility, Kaplan-Myrth says she and her attorney, Mark Burry, will file a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal this week.

“It’s insane to let this stuff go to waste – the people of Ontario have already paid for this stuff,” Bory told CP24. “It would be a shame to tie people up and waste taxpayer money in litigation when there is such a sensible option.”

Since December 2020, Ontario has received 2.4 million more COVID-19 doses than it administered.

It’s not clear how many of those doses remain viable, but most provinces told the federal government to stop sending them the vaccine back in 2021, because they had more doses than they used to.

CP24 has repeatedly asked Ontario’s Ministry of Health how many of those 2.4 million doses were wasted during administration or ended up in freezers over the past six months.

Each time the ministry has refused to respond.

“It doesn’t seem like any journalist can keep an eye on how many vials of vaccine are sitting there with a July expiration date,” Kaplan-Murth said.

The health ministry declined to say whether there are any plans to widen COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to a fourth dose, but Premier Doug Ford told reporters on Thursday morning that “you’re going to have our (fourth dose) Will hear about the rollout later. little later.”

For Dr. Doris Grinspan, CEO of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, there is little time to wait.

“The nurses are asking us, they want a fourth booster and they don’t want it to be based on age,” she said. “We should open it up before more people get infected in this situation.”

Until now, Ontario nurses have been going to Michigan, New York or Quebec for the fourth dose.

“It’s terrible — how many can go to Quebec and Michigan — it’s terrible for them and terrible for patients, which is why it needs to open up.”

Kaplan-Myrth says he has more than 80 patients and other supporters behind his effort to increase eligibility.

Some are immunocompromised, others work in health care, more essential, in personal workplaces where they saw hundreds of people per day.

If the data were better and clearer, Razak says it would be too early to give everyone a fourth dose with reserves in every jurisdiction in the world.

“Suppose there was a conclusive New England Journal of Medicine paper on the benefits of a fourth dose — we were all going and doing it right away.”

Meanwhile, Razak said the public should make sure they have all the doses of the COVID-19 vaccine they are eligible for today, mask and outside gatherings in indoor spaces.

“All those things, they give you protection regardless of the vaccine status.”

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