COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise across Canada according to recent data from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and one infectious disease expert is highlighting the increased risk to seniors as a wave of infections rips through the population.

"If we look at who is hospitalized with COVID 19 right now… it is overwhelmingly older Canadians," Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a Toronto-based infectious disease specialist, told CTV News Channel on Monday. "It's overwhelmingly people over the age of 80."

There are currently two reformulated COVID-19 vaccines -- from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna -- to help fight the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant that is now the dominant strain in Canada.

With many Canadians past the six-month mark when immunity fades after a previous shot or infections, Bogoch says it's important to stay up-to-date with their booster coverage as COVID-19 circulates in "high numbers" across much of the country.

"We have the tools to reduce the risk of severe infection," Bogoch said. "It's important that people come out and get those vaccines."


However, vaccine fatigue is a real concern, with PHAC data indicating that only 22 per cent of people five years and older got a bivalent booster dose, which offered protection against the Omicron variant in addition to the original coronavirus strain.

This is one of Bogoch's "biggest concerns" because it's "no secret" which groups are most at-risk during an increase in infections --- and he's calling for more focus on vaccinating Canada's vulnerable population.

"It's especially important to not just make the vaccines available to those individuals, but to lower any possible barrier to getting vaccinated."

Click the video at the top of this article for the full interview.

With files from CTV News' Megan DeLaire and the Canadian Press