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Ottawa board of health calls for three-dose passport discussion

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The Ottawa Board of Health is asking the city’s top doctor to petition the province to consider requiring third doses for vaccine passports. 

In a monthly meeting Monday night, the board passed a motion asking Etches to talk to provincial officials about requiring third doses for vaccine passports.

Chair Keith Egli says we need to have an open dialogue with the province where every option is on the table to ensure life can get back to normal.

“Nobody wants to close businesses again, nobody wants to close schools again, people want to see their families. So it’s about having that discussion and trying to figure our what is the best way forward,” Egli said. “We want to make progress, we want it to be sustainable.”

Medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said there are still many people who have not been infected by the Omicron variant, so precautions are still required.

“We need to think about what our policy approach and our other measures that could make a difference,” Etches said.  

“What is clear is we need to think about all the levers to increase the protection in our population,” Etches added. “That third dose means your risk of hospitalizion has dropped by 90 per cent compared to two, which is 70 per cent.”

Premier Doug Ford last week said the province would not move to establishing three-dose proof of vaccination requirements, but faced increased pressure from the opposition again Tuesday. 

“I believe this is that moment to take the extra step to show real responsible, competent and strong leadership,” Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said, while calling for the province to mandate the vaccine passport to access provincial liquor and cannabis stores and to change the definition of the vaccine passport to require three doses. 

The calls come with less than a week before Ontario reopens, and omicron cases still high in the capital. 

“We support anything that can be done to keep businesses open,” Sueling Ching, President of the Ottawa Board of Trade said on CTV News at Noon. 

“It’s the vaccines along with increased testing, following health protocols, these are all things that inspire consumer and employee confidence and allow businesses to continue to stay open,” she continued. 

Etches expressing cautions optimism that the city is seeing a slow decline in transmission of the virus after reaching a peak earlier in January, the best way out continuing to be vaccinations.

"Overall we are looking for a way to move through this wave,” Etches said. “We are trying to take a comprehensive look at what we can do at this point to be cautious and increase vaccination.”

In Ottawa 59 per cent of eligible adults have a third dose but it’s less than half province-wide. 

“Two doses was a great start, the message should be you need a third dose to give you that extra added level of protection for you and people around you,” Dr. Ronald St. John, former Federal Manager to the SARS response said. 

Ottawa residents reacting to the potential changes Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s necessary at this point in the pandemic, particularly for younger people I don’t think it’s necessary; maybe for older people it would be advantageous but probably not entirely necessary,” Nick Nantais said. 

“If three vaccines are what boosts immunity then I think that three is what should count as a full vaccine passport,” Sherry Babour countered. 

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