Doctors urged to be selective about exemptions


TORONTO – Ontario’s medical regulator is urging doctors to be judicious about handing out medical exemptions to COVID-19 vaccines.

The message from the registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario comes after the province announced a vaccine certificate program.

The system will require residents to be inoculated against COVID-19 to access some non-essential services, unless there’s a medical reason they can’t be vaccinated.

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

She says there are very few legitimate medical reasons not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

They include an allergist-confirmed severe allergy or anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of its components, and a diagnosis of myocarditis or pericarditis after receiving an mRNA vaccine.

She says those instances are extremely rare.

The vaccine certificate system, announced Wednesday, is intended to increase immunization rates in a bid to curb the fourth wave of the COVID-19.

The number of daily diagnoses of the virus has been rising steadily in recent weeks, with 865 new cases reported Thursday.

The province also counted 14 new deaths linked to the virus.

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

Government data shows 320 Ontarians are hospitalized due to COVID-19, with 162 in the ICU and 105 on a ventilator. Elliott says 292 of those hospitalized are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status.

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.