Ontarians have mixed feelings about the fourth dose of the COVID-19 shot.
A newly released poll by the Angus Reid Institute found roughly one in five vaccinated Ontarians say they won’t be getting the second booster.
While 62 percent of those surveyed said they will get it, another 20 per cent remain undecided. Another 18 per cent said that they don’t intend to get a booster.
In terms of when Ontario residents want to see this shot made available, 61 per cent said they want to see it expanded to those over 18 “as soon as possible,” while another 20 per cent answered “not at all/no need to do this.” The remaining 19 per cent of those surveyed said they want to see the fourth vaccine rolled out starting in the fall or winter.
Despite this fourth dose hesitancy, almost 70 per cent of people surveyed by Angus Reid in Ontario said they’re willing to get a booster each year “for as long as it is recommended.” Just under 30 per cent said the opposite.
A similar number of Ontarians said they feel keeping up with vaccines is an effective way to combat serious illness or death, compared to just 18 per cent of people who disagreed.
Last week, Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore announced all fourth dose eligibility would be expanded to everyone 18 and up.
People are eligible to get the a second booster shot five months or 140 days after their last shot and if their last COVID-19 infection was at least three months (84 days) ago.
Moore urged those age 18 to 59 who have “underlying illnesses” like diabetes or heart disease to get the shot.
But he advised everyone else with “persistent and powerful immunity” to hold off for now and wait for Omicron-specific bivalent vaccines, expected to arrive in Canada in the fall.
Moore, did however, suggest healthcare workers and people who work in busy crowded settings should get a fourth dose even if they don’t have an underlying health condition.
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa is strongly encouraging all eligible Torontonians to get a fourth COVID-19 shot as soon as possible, regardless of Moore’s advice.
“Keeping up to date with your immunization is the best way to ensure you, your loved ones and your community are protected from the virus and its variants,” she said, noting people with a third dose had the lowest rate of hospitalization during previous waves.
“While the third dose provides good protection of COVID-19, the fourth dose provides even better protection.”
Ottawa doctor Nili Kaplan-Myrth is also a strong proponent of the fourth shot and was prepared to sue the province if it wasn’t offered to all adults as soon as possible.
“If it gives you some modicum of additional protection and knowing you’re not getting your (bivalent) vaccine until November, why wouldn’t we want to have people have their boosters instead of waiting as this wave is ramping up,” Kaplan-Myrth told CP24 last week.
“It was ridiculous for us to be told by Ontario that we couldn’t give the vaccine. (Adults under 60) should be eligible and now they are.”
The Angus Reid survey is based on a randomized sample of 1,583 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. It was conducted between July 13 and July 15, following Moore’s announcement. A probability sample of that size typically carries a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
-with files from Chris Herhalt