The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is now offering the bivalent COVID-19 booster to priority groups who are at greatest risk of hospitalization, severe illness or death from COVID-19 infection, including people aged 70 years and older and long-term care residents. The bivalent mRNA vaccine targets the original COVID-19 virus and the Omicron B1 variant and will help offer protection during the anticipated fall surge.
As of this morning, eligible individuals can receive the bivalent booster at the recommended interval of at least six months (or three months with informed consent) from their previous dose, regardless of how many boosters they have already received, by appointment only at local GO-VAXX bus visits and at SMDHU clinics. Appointments are available through the provincial COVID-19 Vaccination Portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900. Walk-ins are currently unavailable.
The following priority groups are encouraged to book appointments:
- People aged 70 years and older
- Residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, Elder Care Lodges and those living in other congregate settings
- First Nation, Inuit and Métis adults and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 years and older
- Pregnant individuals aged 18 and over
- Health care workers aged 18 and over
- Moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals aged 12 years and older
- For those 12 to 17 years of age who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, a booster dose of the bivalent Moderna COVID-19 vaccine may be offered off-label based on clinic discretion.
To prioritize distribution to these priority groups, new booster appointments for people 18 years and older will be paused until Sept. 26, when bivalent booster eligibility expands to those 18 and over. All previously-booked booster appointments for Sept. 12 to 25 will be honoured and, if available, the bivalent vaccine will be offered.
In the meantime, to allow for planning and preparation, individuals 18 years of age and older who do not belong to a priority population can start booking appointments for Sept. 26 and beyond as of today. The availability of appointments is based on shipment schedules and vaccine supply from the federal government.
On Wednesday, Sept. 14, the health unit is offering a one-day pop-up clinic at the Ontario Works Office at 136 Bayfield Street, 4th floor in Barrie from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. COVID-19 vaccines for eligible individuals aged 5 years and older will be available on a walk-in basis only, including a limited supply of the bivalent booster for members of the priority groups as capacity allows.
In addition, the RVH COVID-19 Immunization Clinic at 29 Sperling Dr. in Barrie continues to offer booked appointments and walk-ins from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Appointments may also be booked with the Couchiching Ontario Health Team Clinic located in the Orillia Soldier’s Memorial Hospital Kiwanis Building – West Entrance 170 Colborne St., W.
Staying up to date with all COVID-19 vaccine doses you are currently eligible for remains the best defense against infection, severe illness, long-term COVID-19 symptoms, hospitalization and death. The health unit encourages residents to access COVID-19 doses by appointment at its community clinics throughout Simcoe Muskoka that can be booked through the vaccination portal or Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900. Some local pharmacies, primary care providers and Family Health Teams may also offer the vaccine as part of their regular clinical practice.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccination, dose eligibility and booking an appointment, please visit www.smdhu.org/GetVaccinated.