As the province continues to respond to the fourth wave of the pandemic driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, the government is further protecting Ontarians through continued actions that encourage every eligible person to get vaccinated and help stop the spread of COVID-19.
This week the government released the regulations and guidance for businesses and organizations to support them in implementing proof of vaccination requirements, which take effect on September 22, 2021. Requiring proof of vaccination will help increase vaccination rates, protect individuals in higher-risk indoor settings, and keep businesses open.
“High rates of vaccination against COVID-19 are critical to helping protect our communities and hospital capacity while keeping Ontario schools and businesses safely open,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As we continue our last mile push to increase vaccination rates, requiring proof of immunization in select settings will encourage even more Ontarians to receive the vaccine and stop the spread of COVID-19. If you haven’t received your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, please sign up today.”
In advance of September 22, all Ontarians can print or download their vaccination receipt from the provincial booking portal. The Ministry is working on additional supports and services to assist Ontario residents who need help obtaining proof of vaccination, including requesting a copy be sent by mail. Those who need support obtaining a copy of their vaccination receipt including those who do not have access to a computer or printer can call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.
The province is developing an enhanced vaccine certificate with a unique QR code to make it safer, more secure and convenient to show that you have been vaccinated, when required to do so. The enhanced vaccine certificate and verification app will be available by October 22, 2021. Ontario’s proof of vaccination guidance will be updated to reflect the new processes.
“Businesses need a smart, quick and safe solution to verify vaccination,” said Kaleed Rasheed, Associate Minister of Digital Government. “The made-in-Ontario enhanced vaccine certificate for the public and the verification app for businesses are tools to confirm that an individual has been vaccinated while protecting Ontarians’ health data.”
The proof of vaccination policy has resulted in a marked increase in vaccination rates. Between September 1 and September 8, 2021, the seven-day average for first doses administered increased by more than 29 per cent, from over 11,400 doses to over 14,700 doses. During that time, more than 90,000 first doses and 102,000 second doses were administered in Ontario to individuals aged 18 to 59.
To further increase vaccine uptake, the province is continuing its last mile strategy to reach eligible individuals who have yet to receive a first or second dose. This includes:
- The provincial call centre booking or rebooking more than 135,000 appointments;
- The GO-VAXX bus administering more than 3,700 doses with 50 per cent being first doses, since launching on August 7, 2021;
- Setting up a Provincial Vaccine Confidence Line that individuals can call to speak with an experienced agent or health specialist about COVID-19 vaccine questions; and
- Supporting more than 550 vaccination clinics in or nearby elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools that are currently operational or planned for the near future.
“As we continue to see cases of COVID-19 in our communities, we must keep up the fight against the transmission of this virus and its variants to create a safer environment for ourselves, our families and our communities,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “The best defense against COVID-19 is getting a vaccine and encouraging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated too. Wearing a mask and practising physical distancing where possible are public health measures we all must continue to follow.”
To further protect those who face the highest risk from COVID-19 and the Delta variant, the government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health is following the evidence and recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and will begin offering third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to additional groups, such as individuals with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency, individuals receiving active treatment for significantly immunosuppressive conditions and those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Locations and timing for third doses will vary by public health unit and high-risk population based on local planning and considerations.
“Getting fully vaccinated is the most important step you can take to protect yourself and others,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “To provide the best protection to some of our more vulnerable populations, we are offering a third dose to additional groups of immunocompromised people who are more likely to have had a less than adequate immune response to the initial two dose COVID-19 vaccine series. I continue to strongly encourage anyone eligible who hasn’t already come forward to get their COVID-19 shot, to do so today to do their part to help keep themselves, their loved ones and our communities safe.”