Ontario Rheumatologists Warn: Immunocompromised Patients are Being Put at Risk for COVID-19

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TORONTO, Oct. 19, 2021 /CNW/ - The Ontario Rheumatology Association (ORA) thanks the Province of Ontario for removing vaccine referral requirements for immunocompromised patients seeking access to third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Province reversed its earlier guidance in early October to ensure those vulnerable populations were able to access their third dose without barriers, removing significant logistical hurdles with the referral letter requirement.

"We were very pleased that this layer of complexity for our patients and our members was removed, allowing any individual battling a rheumatic condition the ability to receive their third or booster vaccine dose, simply by showing their prescription, as outlined by Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health," says ORA President, Dr. Philip Baer. "We were concerned to hear that despite this guidance from the Province, many immunocompromised patients are being turned away at vaccination sites, citing the need for a referral letter."

Patients in Ontario taking immunosuppressive therapies are eligible for a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine 8 weeks after their second dose. To verify, patients are being asked to bring their prescription bottle for an immunosuppressive agent to the vaccination site, or a summary of their medications from their pharmacy. Individuals who meet the criteria and have questions can call the provincial call centre at 1-888-999-6488 for additional information, and general inquiries.

Dr. Baer adds, "after so much progress in our fight against COVID-19, the ORA does not want to jeopardize the health and safety of patients due to a lack of understanding of the new requirements for COVID-19 third/booster shots. We're urging the Province to make this update clear to the local public health units, pharmacists and vaccination sites, so that immunocompromised patients are protected."

Ontario Rheumatology Association
The ORA engages the rheumatology community through membership and education. It is an advocate for its members when collaborating with the government and private payers to access appropriate treatment options for rheumatic diseases. It has established a networking and communications forum for Ontario rheumatologists.

The ORA collaborates with many professional associations including the Canadian Rheumatology Association (CRA), the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), the Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance (CAPA), the Arthritis Health Professions Association (AHPA), Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE), the Arthritis Society and the Pharmaceutical Industry.

SOURCE Ontario Rheumatology Association

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View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/October2021/19/c7269.html

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