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COVID 19: Booster shots only by appointment, no walk-ins at city facilities, says OPH


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Drop-ins at COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be limited to those receiving a first or second dose of vaccine as of Friday, Ottawa Public Health has announced.

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Appointments are required for those receiving their third booster doses, said OPH in a tweet.

“Please know that we are working hard to increase capacity ASAP.”

The notice sparked a quick response expressing all-around frustration with the flow of information and getting appointments through the provincial booking system

“I have to say how incredibly disappointed I am with the dissemination of information,” responded one Twitter user. “I got my booster yesterday but not because the system worked. Rather I was informed by word-of-mouth of a pharmacy doing walk-ins.”

OPH later tweeted that clinics were fully booked for vaccination appointements through the weekend.

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Others expressed concerns that the option was being taken away from seniors seeking to get booster shots.

“A little tweet like this is not enough to advise people on a Friday morning,” responded another Twitter user.

“By doing this you are putting people at risk traveling to these locations especially those at risk and taking public transit.”

Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vera Etches, said Thursday that 650,000 people in Ottawa will be eligible for a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday.

Residents relied on detective work and word-of-mouth to track down pharmacies offering booster shots.

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Hundreds of people were lined up at seven LCBO outlets in Ottawa were to be distributing free rapid antigen tests as part of the provincial government’s holiday blitz to provide kits to the general public at LCBOs as well as pop-up sites at shopping malls, markets and transit hubs.

The LCBO said in a news release Thursday that the tests were arriving slowly, but weren’t expected to last long.

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The first seven LCBO outlets to receive the tests are: Bank & Walkley, Carling & Woodroffe, Rideau & King Edward, Gloucester Blair & Ogilvie, Hunt Club & Merivale, Strandherd & Greenbank, Orleans Innes & Tenth Line

About 50 people in the lineup at the Bank Street LCBO shortly after the store opened at 9 a.m. were trading rumours about when the tests might arrive while staff directed traffic.

“The tests aren’t here yet,” yelled one staffer to occupants of the steady stream of cars entering the parking lot.

M. J. Gandier waits with about 50 others in a lineup at the LCBO at Bank Street and Walkley Road hoping to snag a free COVID-19 test kit.
M. J. Gandier waits with about 50 others in a lineup at the LCBO at Bank Street and Walkley Road hoping to snag a free COVID-19 test kit. Photo by Jacquie Miller /Postmedia

M.J. Gandier was near the back of the lineup but she would be willing to wait at least a couple of hours.

“I’m going to treat this like the most important thing on the planet,” she said, half joking.

Gandier said was carefully considering how she might use the test before any holiday gathering.

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She said she was annoyed at having to miss work and also a little worried that she might catch COVID-19 while waiting in the lineup with a crowd of people.

“Maybe if I get the rapid test I’ll take it right after I leave here,” she said.

Another woman, Carol, who didn’t want to give her last name, said she would wait as long as it took.

“I’m 84 years old and I need that test. I have great grandkids, my family.”

“I’ll wait, I guess. It’s beautiful out and at my age I need all the fresh air I can get.”

Another woman, Maryann, who was at the front of the line, said she arrived at 8 a.m.

She takes care of her two granddaughters, age 3 and one, who cannot be vaccinated, and also has an elderly mother, said Maryann.

She said she’d like to use a rapid test before the grandkids arrive to be babysat next week, and also before she sees her mother at Christmas.

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“In the run up to Christmas I’d like to know that none of us are infected before we go see her.”

Ontario is making two million rapid tests available to the public through the pop-ups.

Ottawa is slated to have a total of 10 pop-ups but they are not scheduled to open until Dec. 21.

Meanwhile, Algonquin College announced Friday morning that it to take most programs online when classes resume after the break — and this is expected to remain in place until the end of March Break.

The University of Ottawa and Carleton University, along with many other Ontario universities, announced on Wednesday that most classes would be moving online starting Jan. 10.

Carleton and uOttawa plan to remain online until the end of January. Queen’s University in hard-hit Kingston announced that it was moving online until Feb, 28.

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In a message to students and staff on Friday morning, Algonquin president Claude Brulé said most academic programming for the winter term will begin as scheduled on Jan. 10, but primarily in virtual mode.

“For those learning activities that cannot be delivered virtually, on-campus delivery will continue, but with physical distancing requirements in place for the entire campus,” said Brulé.

“We will continually review the need for virtual delivery, but it is expected to continue in this manner until March 7, i.e. until the end of our winter mid-term break.”

The only students and staff allowed in-person on campus will be those who are required to be there and in-person, non-academic events and social gatherings have been paused as well, he said.

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Meanwhile, St. Peter High School in Orléans was closed Friday after an outbreak.

All students and staff at the school have been ordered by Ottawa Public Health to isolate at home and await further instructions, said Sharlene Hunter, spokesperson for the Ottawa Catholic School Board.

As of Monday, those between 12 to 17 must show proof of vaccination and valid ID to access City of Ottawa indoor recreation and cultural facilities, including organized sports.

Youth participating in organized sports were previously exempt from showing proof of vaccination. The only people not required to show proof of vaccination starting Monday are those 11 years old and under, and those who have a documented medical exemption.

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For those who turn 12 in 2022, there is a grace period of 12 weeks from their birthday they won’t need proof of vaccination. .

Starting Jan. 4, provincial regulations will also require everyone over 12 to use Ontario’s vaccine certificate with QR code to show proof of vaccination. The certificate can be shown on a hand-held device or printout.

Those with a medical exemption will also need to use the QR code certificate as of Jan. 10.

People from outside Ontario must follow instructions on providing their proof of vaccination. Identification must show a participant’s name and date of birth and have been issued by an institution or public body. Photo identification is not required.

Latest COVID-19 news in Ontario

Ontario reported 3,124 new cases on Friday, a significant jump from the 2,421 cases reported on Thursday. The seven-day average now stands at 1,914.

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The province also reported five new deaths.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott reported that 358 people in the province are hospitalized with COVID-19, 30 more than in Thursday. Of these, 273 are not vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status.

There are 157 people in ICU with COVID-related disease and 98 on a ventilator.

In local health units, Ottawa reported 294 new cases on Friday according to early numbers compared to 199 new cases on Thursday.

Hard-hit Kingston reported 205 new cases; Leeds-Grenville-Lanark reported 40 new cases; Eastern Ontario, which includes Cornwall and Hawkesbury reported 21new  cases and Renfrew reported seven new cases.

These numbers may change as health units report their own numbers later in the day.

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The provincial estimated seven-day reproduction rate is 1.27, calculated from Dec. 8 to 14. A number higher than 1 indicates the virus is increasing.

Positivity — percentage of tests that are positive — was 8.2 per cent as of Friday. It was seven per cent on Thursday.

In a tweet, Elliott said those 50 and older and all of those currently eligible who have booked a booster dose appointment can call 1-833-943-3900 to re-book for an earlier date at the three-month interval.

Appointments can be changed through the provincial booking system starting on Monday.

COVID-19 news nationally

The federal government announced it will reinstate regulations requiring people returning from short foreign trips to submit a negative COVID-19 test.

Canada dropped the requirement in November amid complaints from the travel industry that it was deterring tourism.

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