By Goldie Ghamari, MPP for Carleton
As we celebrate the holiday season with our families and loved ones, let’s all remember to make safety a top priority.
Regardless of where you are in Carleton, you will certainly be seeing the Ontario R.I.D.E. program in action as law enforcement officers across the province will be running roadside checks for impaired driving due to alcohol and/or drugs.
The R.I.D.E. program (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) is in its 45th year and has been a successful program in reducing and deterring drinking and driving.
If you are going out to celebrate for a social gathering or for New Year’s Eve, please do so responsibly and have a plan in place to ensure your own safety and the safety of others on the roads this holiday season.
All Ontarians Aged Five And Over Eligible for Bivalent Booster
With the Health Canada approval of a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine for five to 11 year-olds, all Ontarians aged five and over are eligible to book a bivalent booster dose starting December 21. All Ontarians are strongly encouraged to keep up to date with their flu and COVID-19 vaccinations to restore protection that may have decreased since a previous dose, which remains the best way for people to stay healthy this winter and prevent unnecessary visits to the hospital.
A COVID-19 bivalent booster targets the original COVID-19 virus and provides better protection against the other variants currently circulating. Flu shots can also be safely given at the same time, or at any time before or after a COVID-19 vaccine for individuals aged six months and older. Find out more at ontario.ca/flu.
Appointments can be booked via the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre (PVCC) at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007). Parents and caregivers can book for their child. Eligible individuals can also book an appointment directly through public health units that use their own booking systems, Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, participating health care providers and participating pharmacies.
To help keep everyone as healthy as possible this respiratory illness season, Ontarians should stay home when they are feeling sick and practise good hand hygiene. It is also strongly recommended that Ontarians wear face masks in indoor public settings, or where it feels right for them.
- Ontarians aged five and older and not at high-risk of severe COVID-19 illness are recommended to get a booster dose this respiratory illness season if it has been six months since their last dose.
- Ontarians at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness are recommended to get a booster dose this respiratory illness season if it has been three months since their last dose.
- Individuals can access Ontario’s antiviral screener tool to help determine if they are at higher risk and should be assessed for treatment. A positive rapid antigen test, PCR or rapid molecular test is required as part of the assessment for antiviral treatment. Rapid antigen tests will remain available for pick up at no charge until June 30, 2023, from over 3,000 retail locations in the province. PCR tests are available at any provincial testing location to eligible groups.
- Pharmacists are able to prescribe Paxlovid to eligible individuals in-person or virtually (such as by telephone) at no cost. Eligible individuals should contact their local pharmacy to confirm if they prescribe Paxlovid and how to get a prescription for Paxlovid.
- Clinical assessment centres continue to be available to assess patients with cough, cold, flu and COVID-19 symptoms as well as to test, prescribe and dispense antivirals for COVID-19.
- Parents are reminded to also stick to the Ontario routine immunization schedule. If your child missed vaccinations or if you are unsure about which vaccinations they have received, contact your health care provider or public health unit to get their vaccination schedule back on track.
If you have questions about vaccinating your child, book a confidential conversation with a registered nurse through the SickKids COVID‑19 Vaccine Consult Service at www.sickkids.ca/vaccineconsult or 1-888-304-6558 (appointments are available in multiple languages).
My office is open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm. If you require assistance on any matter, please contact me at any time. My staff and I will be happy to assist. Even if it’s not a provincial issue, I’ll make sure to connect you with the proper office.
Your voice at Queen’s Park