OTTAWA (Reuters) -The major Canadian province of Ontario said on Wednesday it was expanding eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots from Saturday to those over 70 as well as health care workers and some essential care givers.
Authorities in Ontario, the most populous of the 10 provinces, also said they gradually planned to make booster shots available to all 14.6 million inhabitants in the coming months but gave no details.
The move announced on Wednesday means 2.75 million new people will be eligible for booster shots as of Nov 6, in addition to the 250,000 individuals already able to apply for a third dose.
"These additional groups will benefit from a booster dose as they are at increased risk of waning immunity and greater risk of exposure, serious illness and outcomes," Ontario's chief medical officer of health, Kieran Moore, told reporters.
Others who can now get a third shot are members of indigenous groups and those who completed a series of viral vector vaccines such as ones produced by AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson.
Moore said almost 85% of eligible Ontarians were fully inoculated and urged the remainder to get their shots.
"It's very appropriate that everyone realize that this virus isn't going away, that this virus is going to be persistent and most likely will become an annual winter virus," he said.
Ontario expects federal authorities to announce by the end of the month whether Pfizer's vaccine can be given to children between 5 and 11, he added.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru, Editing by William Maclean and Alistair Bell)