Ontario to offer third COVID-19 vaccine doses to high-risk people

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FILE PHOTO: COVID-19 vaccinations at a Pentecostal Church in Toronto, Ontario

By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) - The Canadian province of Ontario will begin offering third COVID-19 vaccine doses to vulnerable people as early as this week, its chief medical officer said on Tuesday.

Eligible populations will include transplant patients, some cancer patients on active treatment, people on immunosuppressant medications and residents in high-risk settings including long- term care homes and indigenous elder care lodges.

The province is also pausing its planned full reopening until further notice, according to a statement from the provincial government. The move would have removed capacity limits on business and social settings completely.

Third dose vaccinations could begin as early as this week in some areas, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore said.

Transplant recipients and people on immunosuppressant drugs can get a third dose eight weeks after their second shot. All other vulnerable populations must wait a minimum of five months.

The government is also mandating hospitals, long-term and community care service providers to require all employees, staff, contractors, students and volunteers to provide proof of full vaccination, a medical reason why they are not, or completion of a COVID-19 vaccine educational seminar.

The government also said the education ministry intends to introduce a vaccination disclosure policy for all publicly funded school board employees, staff in private schools and childcare centers in the province, with rapid testing requirements for staff who are not vaccinated.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)

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