Ontario’s most vulnerable populations now have access to a new type of vaccine that aims to protect against the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The provincial government is now rolling out a bivalent COVID-19 booster to all Ontarians over the age of 18, if it's been at least six months since their last vaccine dose, beginning with those who are:

- 70 years and older,
- residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, etc
- Indigenous individuals and their household members 18 and over,
- moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals 12 and over,
- pregnant individuals 18 and over,
- healthcare workers 18 and over,

Currently, previous COVID-19 vaccines were monovalent – meaning they targeted the original strain of COVID-19 from 2020.

The bivalent vaccine is essentially a mix of the original vaccine and an updated vaccine, which targets specific mutations in the spike protein seen in the multiple strains of the Omicron variant.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, says the new vaccine’s rollout is based on the guidance from Health Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

“The bivalent COVID-19 booster is a safe and effective way for people to better protect themselves against the most recently circulating COVID-19 variants in Ontario,” said Dr. Moore. “As vaccine protection decreases over time, I encourage all Ontarians aged five and over to receive the booster dose they are eligible for.”

Booster appointments can be booked as of today but the appointments won’t be taking place until at least September 26, to allow for the preparation of sites.

Appointments can be made through Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccination Portal, by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900, or through the Northwestern Health Unit depending on availability.

Long-term care home and retirement home residents will receive their booster dose through staff at the home they live in.

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.