Peel Region’s top doctor is urging younger residents to hold off from booking COVID-19 booster appointments right now in order to give priority to those over 50.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh says all of Peel’s current vaccine appointments are booked until early February and that the region is working to add thousands of appointments daily to the provincial online booking platform.

“However, the challenge is that almost a million people in Peel became eligible for boosters on Monday and at peak capacity in spring with our other partners, our hospitals, our community partners, etcetera, online, it still took us nearly six months to vaccinate that many people,” Loh said during a COVID-19 update on Wednesday.

With the overwhelming demand for booster shots, Loh is asking younger residents who have had two doses to refrain from booking their booster shots to allow the older population to get theirs as they are more at risk from the virus.

“In general for example, if you're on a crowded subway, you give your seat up to those who might need it more. So, at this point in time, given the capacity constraints, I'd like to urge if you're younger with two doses please consider holding on booking and instead helping your older friends and family access a booster appointment as soon as possible,” he said.

The province expanded booster eligibility on Monday to Ontarians 18 years and older who got their second dose at least three months ago.

The expansion was part of the province’s plan to combat the contagious Omicron variant that currently accounts for over 91 per cent of all coronavirus cases in the province.

A week earlier, booster shots were expanded to residents over 50 and select immunocompromised individuals, providing little time for these groups to book an appointment before eligibility expanded to 18-plus.

In an effort to get booster shots sooner, people across the Greater Toronto Area have been lining up at pop-up clinics, similar to what was seen during the rollout of first doses.

Loh says officials in Peel are considering implementing more pop-up clinics throughout the holiday to accommodate the high demand.

“We're looking at pop-up clinics for 50 places, we're looking at additional capacity that's all being brought online through the holiday season and into the early New Year as we try to get ahead of Omicron,” he said.

Loh added that it is crucial for people to reduce contacts to avoid virus spread amid the holiday season.