Toronto launches new vaccine campaign as cold weather approaches

Toronto Public Health aims to protect most vulnerable groups from flu and COVID-19.

A health professional holds a needle as a patient is vaccinated.
A health professional holds a syringe as a patient is vaccinated. (Unsplash) 

Health officials are preparing to fight the expected spread of flu and COVID-19 viruses over the coming winter.

Toronto Public Health vaccination appointments are now available for select residents and will open to the general public as of Oct. 31. Residents are encouraged to book appointments for the updated vaccines as soon as possible, according to a city news release.

It’s critical people get the shots, said associate medical officer of health Dr. Vinita Dubey.

“For many people, it has been more than a year since they last had a COVID-19 vaccine, or infection,” Dubery told Toronto Observer. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has been declared over by the World Health Organization, the COVID-19 virus is still spreading.”

New variants of COVID will continue to circulate in the winter, affecting the most vulnerable and putting a strain on our healthcare system, Dubey said.

More than 4,000 appointments have been made availalble for the updated monovalent COVID-19 vaccine in Toronto, and 8,500 are to be be added in the coming days.

Based on provincial eligibility criteria, TPH is using a phased approach to better serve residents. Priority groups include:

  • Residents and staff in congregate living settings
  • People 65 years of age or older
  • Pregnant individuals
  • Children six months to four years of age
  • Individuals who are from a First Nation, Inuit, or Métis and other racialized communities
  • People with chronic health conditions
  • Healthcare providers and first responders

Only one appointment will be required for doses to fight both COVID and the flu, and they can be booked online with the city. In addition to fixed-site clinics, pharmacies and other primary healthcare providers can also book the shots.

Vaccines are free at TPH clinics, where OHIP cards are not required. The city news release notes the viruses are in constant change and that updated vaccines are essential for the fight against the illnesses.

“We urge everyone to take this opportunity to get vaccinated, not only for your well-being but also to contribute to the overall health and safety of our community,” said Toronto’s medical health officer Eileen de Villa said in a statement.

Ongoing research to understand the viruses

Dubey advises citizens to educate themselves about the spread of viruses in the colder seasons. Data collected by Public Health Ontario suggests that COVID-19 patterns in the province normally rise during the winter time, especially in December.

Statistics Canada finds about 80 per cent of people in Ontario had their primary series of COVID completed, meaning the initial series of vaccines designed to protect against the virus.

Yet, some scientists warn uncertainty around long-term health effects for individuals with multiple vaccine shots, CBC reported last month.

Free and conventional rapid antigen tests are provided across Toronto. Residents feeling sick are advised to stay home in order to protect their community.

About this article

Posted: Oct 21 2023 1:16 pm
Filed under: COVID-19