Ontario reports 1,281 COVID-19 hospitalizations as province expands booster dose eligibility

Ontario is reporting 1,281 COVID-19 hospitalizations and 33 more deaths on Friday, as the province expands booster dose eligibility to youth aged 12 to 17.

Hospital admissions are down from 1,342 on the previous day and down from 1,829 at the same time last week.

According to the Ministry of Health, 51 per cent of those people were admitted to hospital specifically for COVID-19 while 49 per cent were admitted for other reasons but have since tested positive for the virus.

Of those, 352 people are in intensive care units. That is slightly down from 356 the day before and 435 at the same time the week prior. Roughly 81 per cent were admitted to intensive care specifically for the virus, while the rest were admitted for other reasons.

An additional 33 deaths were also reported Friday, pushing Ontario’s official death toll to 12,237.

The province isn’t reporting COVID-19 cases or outbreaks in schools but four were closed for operational reasons and 426 schools reported absences of 30 per cent or higher.

About 85 per cent of Ontarians aged five and older have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 90 per cent have at least one.

On Thursday, the province announced it is reviewing directives for vaccination policies across several sectors, including colleges, universities and health-care settings. Dr. Kieran Moore, chief medical officer of health, said in a news briefing his goal is to lift them by the start of the next month.

The announcement came on the same day as the province lifted capacity limits on restaurants, cinemas and gyms, and eased limits on social gatherings.

Youth from 12-17 can now book boosters

The provincial vaccine booking portal opened at 8 a.m. for those aged 12-17 who had their second shot six months ago, though some public health units have already been offering the third shots to teens since the province announced the expanded booster eligibility earlier this week.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has only recommended booster doses for high-risk teenagers, such as those who are immunocompromised.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott says Ontario’s decision to expand eligibility to anyone 12 to 17 who had their second shot six months ago is based on the advice of the chief medical officer of health and the Ontario Immunization Advisory Committee.

About 90 per cent of those aged 12 to 17 in Ontario have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In the next age group — 18 to 29 — just 34 per cent have received a booster shot.

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