Vaccine appointments more than doubled after Ontario Covid passport announcement.

 Could Wednesday’s announcement on mandatory vaccine certificates for non-essential businesses lead to more people getting the shot?

That appears to be the case, according to Ontario’s health minister.

Christine Elliott took to social media on Thursday – one day after Ontario’s vaccine certificate system, intended to increase immunization rates in a bid to curb the fourth wave of the COVID-19, was revealed.

“Great news! Yesterday, bookings on the provincial system more than doubled,” the health minister tweeted. “Today, we’re already seeing thousands [of] more Ontarians roll up their sleeves, nearly half of whom are receiving their first dose.”

Ontario’s Ministry of Health says on August 31st, 3,479 appointments were booked through the provincial booking system. On September 1st, 7,125 appointments were booked through the provincial booking system.

As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, 3,764 first vaccine doses were administered. As of 1 p.m. Thursday, 5,957 first doses were administered. That’s a day-over-day increase of about 58%.

Daily vaccinations have dipped significantly in Ontario in recent months. The province averaged just over 41,000 daily doses administered through August compared to 155,000 shots handed out per day in July. Though it’s only been two days, Ontario has averaged only 35,000 vaccine doses administered this month.

Quebec and British Columbia, two other provinces that have since implemented and or announced a vaccine certificate system, reported an increase in vaccine bookings shortly after.

Under Ontario’s version, starting Sept. 22, residents will have to show proof of vaccination to enter some non-essential businesses such as restaurants, movie theatres, and gyms. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated if 14 days have passed since receiving the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

On Oct. 22, the province aims to launch a QR code and verification app for businesses to streamline the process. There will be exceptions for those with limited medical exemptions and children under 12 who can’t be vaccinated.

The CEO of Ontario’s medical regulator is urging doctors in the province to be informed about handing out those exemptions.

Dr. Nancy Whitmore says the college has already heard about requests for baseless medical exemptions, and physicians must not give in.

“We, as the regulator, want to do our part by ensuring the guidance around complex COVID-19 issues are strong and clear,” said Whitmore on Thursday.

There are very few legitimate medical reasons not to get vaccinated against COVID-19, she said.

They include an allergist or immunologist-confirmed severe allergy or anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components, and a diagnosis of myocarditis – inflammation of the heart muscle pericarditis, inflammation of the sac around the heart, after receiving an mRNA vaccine.

A round of anti-vaccine protests erupted citywide following Wednesday’s announcement. There were similar scenes in British Columbia, as hundreds gathered on the grounds and surrounding streets of the B.C. legislature to protest the province’s vaccine policies.

Ford, who admitted during the press conference he was against the implementation of a vaccine passport, made a note of the possibility of those acting out against the certificate system, calling on people to gather outside Queen’s Park where they can “do cartwheels or whatever they want down here.”

Roughly 83 per cent of Ontarians aged 12 and older have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 76.6 per cent are fully vaccinated.

The number of daily diagnoses of the virus has been rising steadily in recent weeks, with 865 new cases reported in Ontario on Thursday. The province also counted 14 new deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Elliott said 692 of the new diagnoses are not fully vaccinated people or whose vaccination status is unknown.

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