Toronto Rolls Out Its Latest “Shop and Vax” COVID-19 Vaccine Campaign

‘Shop and Vax’ is back in Toronto, as the City continues its efforts to get COVID-19 vaccine doses into the arms of eligible residents.

This campaign will roll out at dozens of malls and neighbourhood clinics starting Thursday and until Sunday.

The City said these hyper-focused clinics help make it as easy as possible for residents to get vaccinated while out shopping or running errands.

First, second, and third doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be available to eligible residents.

‘Shop and Vax’ clinics were also held in September and October.

Nearly 85 percent of eligible Toronto residents are fully vaccinated.

Who is eligible for a third dose and how to get it?

Since August, select groups have been eligible for a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario, with criteria expanding to include more vulnerable populations over the past several weeks.

The province has said eligibility for booster shots will be expanded to all Ontarians “overtime” based on age and risk.

Many have questioned why health officials are not following Israel’s example and broadly recommending a third shot for the general population, just to be safe. The Ministry of Health (MOH) maintains that two shots are a complete vaccine series and provide strong protection against the virus, including the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Only those groups that show a “suboptimal” or “waning” response to the vaccine and are therefore more prone to COVID-19 infection need a third booster shot, as per the MOH’s recommendations.

It is recommended that those who are eligible for a third dose should get an mRNA vaccine — preferably the same brand as their second dose if readily available. Those who received two doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine should also receive an mRNA shot for their third dose unless contraindicated or unavailable.

The province recommends that the third shot should be taken at least five months after the second for seniors and two months after the second for other eligible groups. While the National Advisory Committee on Immunization says the minimum gap should be 28 days, provincial health officials say a longer interval is likely to result in a better immune response. However, recommendations include allowances for individual risk factors and advice from each person’s treating physician to ensure the gap is right for their specific health condition.

“Some immunocompromised individuals may still be susceptible after the one or two-dose primary series, so their period of susceptibility until receipt of the additional dose will also increase if the interval between doses is increased,” says the MOH.

Who can get a third booster dose?

As of August, booster shots have been available to seniors in congregate settings, those who are moderate to severely immunocompromised and those on specific immunosuppressant medications.

On Nov. 3, eligibility was expanded to include:

  • All seniors above 70 years of age
  • Those who received two shots of Astra Zeneca or a single shot of the Janssen vaccine
  • Any adults in First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities
  • Front-line healthcare workers with a short interval between their first two doses.

How to get your third dose

If you fall into any of the above eligible groups, a third dose can be arranged via the same avenues as your first and second dose: through your family doctor or specialist or at a mass vaccination clinic, hospital clinic or select pharmacies.

Seniors living in congregate settings can receive their dose at their long-term care home or seniors’ residence.

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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