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Today’s coronavirus news: Ontarians aged 50 and older can book boosters starting today

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The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

6:11 a.m. Long lines formed at vaccination centers in Britain on Monday as people heeded the government’s call for all adults to get booster shots to help withstand a coronavirus “tidal wave” driven by the Omicron variant.

In a televised announcement late Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said everyone 18 and up would be offered a third vaccine dose by Dec. 31 — less than three weeks away, and a month earlier than the previous target.

“We are now facing an emergency in our battle with the new variant, Omicron,” Johnson said. He said boosters would “reinforce our wall of vaccine protection” against an anticipated “tidal wave of Omicron.”

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While the online appointment booking system will not be open to under-30s until Wednesday, Johnson said any adult could show up at a walk-in center to get a booster starting Monday.

5:45 a.m. They’re making a list and checking it twice. A team of health researchers have put together a short list that would put Canada on the path to a more equitable pandemic recovery.

Written by 11 researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital’s MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, the guidelines pull blueprints from trials, policies and other examples from Canada, the U.S. and around the world to show what is possible and effective to help people struggling to meet their basic needs.

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The result is 13 clear recommendations that would help solve problems related to income, housing, intimate partner violence, children’s well-being, racism and access to health care. The recommendations were published Monday by the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Some could be put into place in a matter of weeks or months — paid sick leave, pharmacare and eviction interventions are things that already have infrastructure around them — what governments need is the will, researchers said.

“I hope that part of what this document shows is that the inequities we’re seeing today and suffering from today, are a result of choices that we’ve made,” Dr. Nav Persaud, co-author and scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital told the Star in an interview.

Read the story from the Star’s Angelyn Francis.

5:30 a.m. Ontario residents aged 50 and older can book COVID-19 booster doses starting today if six months have passed since receiving their second shots.

The provincial vaccine booking portal will open for appointments at 8 a.m.

People can also book shots by phone, through local public health units using their own booking systems and at some pharmacies and primary care clinics.

Booster eligibility will open up to all adults on Jan. 4 but the province’s top doctor has said the schedule could move faster if capacity allows.

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Today is also the deadline for long-term care workers in the province to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Staff, students and volunteers can’t enter long-term care homes without proof of both doses.

5:15 a.m. Ontario’s alarm bells are finally ringing, but not enough. With Omicron sweeping over this province before we can blink, the province will accelerate vaccination this week with everything it can find. Booster shots will then be accelerated into the 18-plus population; some sources believe it could happen next week.

It’s not enough. We are in the early stages of an absolute tsunami of cases, with what is probably enough severity to matter. A wave, at this point, is unavoidable.

But Ontario has realized Omicron is an emergency. Not enough, but in part. In a memo obtained by the Star, sent by chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore, deputy minister of health Dr. Catherine Zahn, Dr. Homer Tien, the president of ORNGE, and Alison Blair, the executive director of emergency health services at the ministry, the province spelled out an accelerated booster plan, designed to “activate as many channels as possible,” aiming for the vaccination levels achieved in the spring and summer of 2021, when Ontario topped out at about 240,000 per day.

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Read more from the Star’s Bruce Arthur.

5 a.m. About 40 per cent of Canadians know a family member or friend who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, and most don’t raise the issue with them, a poll carried out this month suggests.

The survey conducted by Leger and commissioned by the Association for Canadian Studies suggests four in ten Canadians have a friend or family member who is not vaccinated. Seventy per cent of these don’t discuss the matter with them, with half of those saying they have given up trying to persuade them to get protective shots.

The Leger-ACS survey shows that for 35 per cent of those polled, “it is not an issue” and they don’t talk about it, adding they get along well with unvaccinated family and friends. A similar percentage have given up trying to convince people they know to get immunized.

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