Public health readies for COVID-19 booster shots, vaccine approval for children

GUELPH – Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) is ready to administer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots and is preparing to deliver the vaccine to children under 12 as soon as Health Canada approves it.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer told the WDGPH board at its Nov. 3 meeting the province has approved third doses of the vaccine for people with compromised immune systems, such as transplant patients, as well as booster shots for those most at risk of contracting the disease or of having poor outcomes should they become ill.

That includes:

  • residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, elder care lodges, and older adults living in other congregate settings;
  • adults in the community 70 years of age and older;
  • eligible health care workers;
  • recipients of a viral vector vaccine or series completed with only viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca Vaxzevria/Covishield vaccine or one dose of the Janssen vaccine); and
  • First Nations, Inuit, and Métis adults (including non-Indigenous household members).

Booster shots can be administered six months after the second dose and can be received at pharmacies, doctors’ offices, or at public health clinics.

“We have been calling our seniors to help them book appointments,” Mercer said, adding anyone wanting a first or second shot can still get it as well.

While getting the booster shot is not urgent, “sometime in the next one or two months, try to get it,” she urged those who are eligible.

Director of community health and chief nursing officer Rita Isley said public health has already given 900 third dose shots, but there are 7,000 seniors in the region who received their second shot in March and are eligible for a third dose.

“We want to get to them well before the snow,” she said. “The number goes up dramatically after (December) and peaks in January.”

Dr. Nicola Mercer, medical officer of health for WDGPH.

Mercer said public health is distributing the vaccine to facilities that have registered nurses on staff so they can give the shots to staff themselves.

This includes hospitals, long-term care facilities and family health teams.

“It’s more of a distribution model now,” Mercer said.

Mercer also noted she expects Health Canada will approve the vaccine for children aged five to 11 in the coming weeks and public health has been working with family health teams in the region on a plan to reach this group.

She said there are 23,500 children in Wellington, Dufferin and Guelph in the age category and based on vaccine uptake for adults and youth, Mercer said she expects in Guelph 70 per cent of children will get it and in Wellington and Dufferin counties 60% will get it.

The health unit is unique in that most children who live here are rostered with a family doctor. So the vaccine for children will be distributed through tFamily Health Teams and it will be administered by family doctors, rather than at mass clinics.

This will be more comfortable for children who may have a fear of needles, and for other children who may become upset if other children are crying, Mercer said.

“The Family Health Teams are stepping up,” she said. “We have fantastic health care partners here.”

For further information on booster shots, visit

For complete details on third dose eligibility in Ontario visit