After significant pressure from SEIU Healthcare, the Ontario government has finally announced that they will reduce the wait time between first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for high-risk healthcare workers.

The government is adding high-risk healthcare workers to the list of those eligible to receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine earlier than the extended four-month interval. The eligibility for booking will begin by the end of the week of May 10 and booking details will be provided in the coming days.

Some of the high-risk healthcare workers eligible include:

  • All hospital and acute care staff in frontline roles with COVID-19 patients and/or with a high-risk of exposure to COVID-19, including nurses and personal support workers and those performing aerosol-generating procedures,
  • All patient-facing healthcare workers involved in the COVID-19 response,
  • Medical First Responders, including paramedics,
  • Community health care workers serving specialized populations,
  • Long-term care home and retirement-home health care workers, including nurses and personal support workers and essential caregivers, and
  • Home and community care healthcare workers, including nurses and personal support workers caring for recipients of chronic homecare and seniors in congregate living facilities or providing hands-on care to COVID-19 patients in the community.

For a full list, please read the Ontario government’s update here.

This announcement comes in response to SEIU Healthcare Nursing Division leading a letter writing campaign to Christine Elliot, Ontario Minister of Health, calling on the government to make vaccines available to all healthcare workers in their place of work. We also recently held a joint press conference with CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions where we flagged that many healthcare workers are still not fully vaccinated. We have been urging the government to protect healthcare workers by providing them with their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine sooner.

A statement from Sharleen Stewart, SEIU Healthcare President:

“It is unfortunate that the government needs to be shamed into doing what is right for healthcare workers, but none the less, due to union pressure and great media support, I am pleased that the government has finally taken critical steps to better protect healthcare workers. It is vital that all healthcare workers have access to their second dose of vaccines as soon as possible.”