British Columbians to be eligible for COVID-19 booster shot 6 to 8 months after second dose

B.C. government unveils provincial plan for providing third booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine to everyone who wants one. Aaron McArthur reports.

British Columbia has announced a plan to provide COVID-19 booster shots for anyone who wants one six to eight months following their second dose.

On Tuesday, health officials said the program will start with those with waning protection from their first doses and those more likely to end up in hospital.

“I absolutely recommend (a booster shot), especially for those populations we are focused on. We are seeing breakthrough (cases) through older populations and younger people in populations where we are seeing a higher spread of COVID,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during her weekly COVID-19 briefing.

“It will be optional for most of us in the new year. It will give us more durable protection. Right now, I don’t have enough information to say it will be necessary to all of us.”

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Earlier this month, the province started offering booster shots in long-term care and assisted living homes, along with the flu shot.

Starting now, the booster shot program will continue for those with immunity issues defined as clinically extremely vulnerable and will add those over the age of 70, health-care workers in acute care and Indigenous people.

Those over the age of 70 should expect to get a third dose before the end of the year.

Starting in 2022, the province will be offering the booster dose to the rest of the population who have received two doses. The booster will come six to eight months after the second dose.

Those who received AstraZeneca as a first or second dose will be offered an mRNA vaccine as their booster.

Third doses will be available at community clinics and pharmacies, and British Columbians will be contacted when they are eligible for a third dose.

The booking system will be connected through the province’s Get Vaccinated system. Anyone not already registered is urged to do so.

British Columbia will define anyone who has received two or more shots as fully immunized.

The province is planning to be vaccinating children at the same time as administering the booster shots. It is still not known when Health Canada will approve a vaccine for those aged five to 11.

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The province is waiting on international studies about the effectiveness of booster shots.

Officials provided data that shows the second dose has been more effective when the gap between the first dose was longer than six weeks.

“We moved early to extend the gap between first and second doses and that has benefitted us,” Henry said.

“That is different than what we are seeing in other jurisdictions, like Israel and the United States, where they rigidly stuck to the manufacturer interval.”

Ontario and Alberta have already delivered boosters at long-term care homes because of the shorter gap between first and second doses there.

As of Monday, 90 per cent of eligible British Columbians had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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