Ontario accelerating booster shot access for education and childcare workers

Jan 6 2022, 8:58 pm

Ontario is accelerating its booster shot program for education and childcare workers, the provincial government announced.

Minister of Education Stephen Lecce made the announcement on Thursday, detailing measures the government is taking to protect kids, staff, and families against the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Starting January 7, the provincial mass vaccination clinic at the International Centre in Mississauga will operate seven days a week (4:30 pm to 8 pm), and priority appointments will be made available for childcare staff and education workers in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area. This includes educators, custodial staff, administrative staff, school bus drivers, and childcare staff.

The new childcare staff safety protocols include deploying non-fit-tested N95 masks to support frontline workers and stricter screening measures. Schools across Ontario will also see ventilation improvements and access for school boards and $1.6 billion in resources for COVID-19 protection.

Minister Lecce also added that the government is working on setting up more public health-run clinics urgently across the province. The province is creating a plan to make third doses more accessible to education and childcare staff outside the GTHA, too.

“Local PHUs [Public Health Units] will provide further information on how vaccines can be accessed in their communities as it becomes available,” Lecce said. “School boards have an opportunity to use schools as a site for vaccination clinics together with PHU partners.”

Together, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health are also working on making rapid-antigen tests more available to support the current operations at childcare centres as well as schools once they return to in-person learning.

Eligible staff can schedule their booster appointments through the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900.

Additionally, the government announced that it will be extending free emergency childcare services to certain frontline workers.

Imaan SheikhImaan Sheikh

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