Those who had appointments booked to receive their second dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 at a Simcoe Muskoka region clinic will have to rebook later.
The province has changed course on the double doses, opting to stretch out the interval from about four weeks to 16 weeks. The action is based on guidance from Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunizations.
According to the medical officer of health for Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, Dr. Charles Gardner, the change will allow more people to get the first dose of a vaccine quicker. While both doses are required for protection against severe COVID-19, Gardner said he's seen evidence pointing to good levels of protection with the first dose, and he's also eager to expand the vaccine offerings to more people.
"It would be very helpful to everybody if we're able to get a first dose to more people sooner," said Gardner.
All second dose appointments that were booked with the shorter interval will be cancelled, according to the health unit. More details will come soon about how to book a new appointment for a second dose.
Those deemed most at risk for severe illness and death will still receive their second dose within the 21-27 shorter interval including:
- Residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, Elder Care Lodges, and assisted living facilities
- Remote and isolated First Nation communities
Currently, the health unit is handling vaccine appointment booking via its website and phone line. The province's booking system launches March 15 and will replace the health unit's system.
According to the health unit, a pre-registration option will also be made available to certain eligible groups later this week. More information is coming for how to book and pre-register. Check the health unit website for updates.
There is currently no option for Simcoe Muskoka residents to call their doctor to get a vaccine or book an appointment. All appointments must be made through the health unit and only for eligible groups, which includes seniors over the age of 84 years old and Indigenous adults aged 55 or older.
Check the health unit website for updates and more information for booking an appointment when they are available: https://www.simcoemuskokahealth.org/Topics/COVID-19/Vaccine-and-Immunization.