The Ontario government is predicting a spike in COVID-19 cases this fall, prompting them to make third doses of the vaccine available to children under the age of 12 for the first time.

“As we start spending more time indoors this fall, we can expect to see another increase in COVID-19 transmission. We’re also approaching a time of the year where other respiratory viruses increase in circulation,” explained Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore.

Moore, in a virtual press conference on August 31, went on to explain that ahead of the expected spike in cases this fall and as students are set to return to school, Ontario is once again expanding the eligibility for COVID-19 first booster doses to children aged 5 to 11.

As of 8 a.m. today, residents will be able to book an appointment for a pediatric COVID-19 booster dose through Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination portal, or through the Northwestern Health Unit depending on availability.

The pediatric COVID-19 vaccine is one-quarter of the size of the dose approved for adults, and it has to have been at least six months since the youth’s previous dose of the vaccine.

“While we are updating our public health guidance, preventing COVID-19 and other infections is vital to keeping our families, schools and communities safe and healthy,” said Moore.

“I strongly encourage all Ontarians to take advantage of vaccine and booster doses that are recommended and available to them, which now includes the availability of a booster dose for children aged five to 11. Ontarians are also encouraged to protect one another by respecting public health guidance, including staying home and taking precautions if you are sick.”

Moore is asking residents to continue self-monitoring for symptoms if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, but there is no longer a need to self-isolate yourself – although, you are asked to wear a mask for 10 days while in public.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, stay home from work, school or social events until your fever is gone and your symptoms are improving. Then, get a rapid antigen test or a PCR test if eligible, wear a mask for 10 days, and avoid non-essential visits to high-risk individuals and settings.

Individuals over the age of 18 are eligible for their second booster dose if its been at least 5 months since their first booster dose.