Public Health Sudbury & Districts bracing for the COVID-19 Omicron variant and encouraging rapid uptake of booster doses and strict adherence to all local public health precautions and measures

Internationally, nationally, and provincially, the COVID-19 Omicron variant is rapidly becoming the dominant strain with an alarming ability to spread very quickly. Public Health Sudbury & Districts is urgently encouraging all who are eligible to get their COVID-19 vaccine booster (third dose) as soon as possible to maximum their protection against severe illness from Omicron.

“Our area is in the midst of a large surge of cases due to the Delta variant. We have not yet detected Omicron but the startling spread elsewhere in Ontario means we have to do all we can to prevent severe disease and protect the health care system capacity. This means getting immunized with a booster dose as soon as possible. It also means strictly following all public health measures, including the enhanced measures in our area—I am hopeful that these public health measures will slow the rate of spread and frankly, buy us a bit more time to immunize and protect more people with the booster dose,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health with Public Health Sudbury & Districts. “With the Omicron variant, our focus is on reducing severe illness and hospitalizations. Our current understanding is that vaccines are less effective against mildly symptomatic infection, but offer good protection against severe illness and hospitalization,” added Dr. Sutcliffe.

To support this urgent rollout of booster doses, Public Health is redeploying any of its remaining staff resources this week to quickly ramp up local capacity and vaccination appointments. Area health providers have been asked by the Ministry of Health to assist in this latest vaccination effort. Public Health is advising residents that, effective immediately, any other core public health programs and services will be even further reduced.

“Area health system partners have been asked to pull out all the stops—this means public health along with pharmacies, primary care, and hospitals. Our municipal partners are tremendous allies and are working tirelessly to ensure these efforts are successful—they are providing even more staff, spaces, and support in this race against time. This collective push means everyone is stepping up to get as many booster doses into arms over the shortest time possible. We realize what is at stake and are rallying to limit the severity of illness and protect capacity within our already vulnerable health care system,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.

Everyone is reminded that they must follow the Instructions currently in effect across the Greater Sudbury and the districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin. The importance of following the Instructions combined with individual public health measures to limit spread, cannot be overstated, especially for those not yet fully vaccinated or who are not yet eligible for a booster dose. Limit your outings, get vaccinated, wear your mask, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated areas, keep 2-metres distance, and keep social gatherings as small as possible, if gathering at all. Monitor yourself for symptoms and stay home when ill—even mildly symptomatic people should self-isolate immediately and seek testing to prevent spreading COVID-19 in our community. When practised diligently, COVID-safe measures help to limit the spread of COVID-19, including variants of concern.

With the Delta variant still very present in Public Health’s service area, individuals should seek to get their first dose as soon as possible and their second doses or boosters once eligible.

Booster dose eligibility

In addition to the groups listed below, the Ontario government has confirmed that additional age groups will also become eligible for booster doses—additional information will be shared as details are confirmed.

Individuals currently eligible to receive a booster dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Individuals 50 years of age and older who received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago (168 days, 24 weeks).
  • First Nations, Inuit, and Métis adults 16 years of age and older, including non-Indigenous household members who received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago (168 days, 24 weeks).
  • Health care workers 16 years of age and older who received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago (168 days, 24 weeks).
  • Individuals who received two doses of the AstraZeneca COVISHIELD COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago (168 days, 24 weeks).
  • Individuals who received one dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago (168 days, 24 weeks).
  • Vulnerable older adults in congregate settings who received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago (168 days, 24 weeks). Specifically:
    • Residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, and Elder Care Lodges
    • Older adults living in other congregate settings (for example, assisted-living facilities, chronic care hospitals, naturally occurring congregate retirement settings or congregate senior’s apartment buildings, older adults living in congregate settings for people with developmental disabilities, mental health or addiction issues, etc.)
    • Vulnerable older adults who reside in congregate settings should be offered their third dose at least 6 months after their second dose.

How to book an appointment

Appointments can be booked online through the provincial online booking system at and through the local call centre at 705.674.2299 (toll-free: 1.800.708.2505). Online booking is a simple and efficient process and helps reduce call volumes. The call centre is open Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. and is closed on statutory holidays. Individuals can also help people who are eligible by booking an appointment on their behalf.

With many pharmacies and primary care providers offering COVID-19 vaccination, there are even more options available to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Eligible individuals are encouraged to contact their local pharmacy or primary care provider for additional information on a booster dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Public Health Sudbury & Districts is also working closely with partners to be able to continue to offer vaccination opportunities directly in the homes of homebound individuals.

COVID-19 vaccine brands offered

All Public Health clinics offer one of two mRNA vaccine brands—either Moderna Spikevax or the pediatric and adult dose of Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty. For adult vaccination, the adult dose of Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty and Moderna Spikevax vaccines can be safely interchanged. Based on vaccine supplies, the vaccine brand planned for use at any clinic is subject to change, possibly with limited notice. We encourage you to ask our immunizers for more information to help you make an informed decision and feel comfortable about getting either vaccine brand. Your health care provider is also a trusted source of reliable and credible information. Choosing vaccination is a choice and everyone deserves to have the information they need to be well informed. To learn which mRNA vaccine brands are planned for our clinics, visit

For more information about COVID-19 and vaccination, please visit Keep connected with our Facebook and Twitter pages or call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).

This item was last modified on December 14, 2021