Booster dose next step in COVID-19 immunization plan
More people in B.C. will start to receive invitations for a COVID-19 booster shot as the province continues its COVID-19 immunization plan, prioritizing B.C.’s elderly and most at-risk through to the December holiday.
The plan expands to include all British Columbians 12+ beginning in January 2022.
People 70+ who are registered in the Get Vaccinated System, as well as Indigenous Peoples 12+, will soon be invited to book their booster, which will help maintain protection against COVID-19. Booster doses are underway for other priority groups, including residents of long-term care and assisted living facilities and vulnerable people living in shelters or high-risk congregate settings, and are in use as part of outbreak management.
“Our vaccines are highly effective. However, we are starting to see a gradual decline in protection over time. As a result, we are taking the proactive step of expanding boosters to everyone in our province,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. “We’re starting with the people who need them most to continue to do all we can to keep people in B.C. safe from this virus and its variants.”
As was the case with the first and second doses, the timing of invitations is based on risk and age (beginning oldest to youngest), with an interval of between six to eight months from the second dose, a Ministry of Health and Office of the Provincial Health Officer media release explained.
“Everyone who has received their first and second doses who wants a booster shot will receive one,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “People at highest risk of serious illness will go first, and I encourage everyone to get their vaccines, first dose, second dose and booster when it is time, to protect the ones we love the most and to put this pandemic behind us.”
Boosters will be delivered in health authority public-health community clinics and by participating pharmacies around the province. As with dose one and two, people who are registered with the Get Vaccinated System will receive an invitation to book their booster shot when it’s their turn. People can use their invitation to schedule their booster appointment in health authority clinics or at participating pharmacies. The call centre will also continue to be available for those who can’t book online. Walk-ins are not available for booster shots.
“This continues to be the largest and most complex immunization program in our province’s history. With every dose we administer, we’re keeping ourselves, our families, and our communities safer,” said Dr. Penny Ballem, head of B.C.’s Immunization Program. “As it always has, B.C.’s immunization plan will consider people’s different needs and different ways of accessing information and will ensure nobody eligible to receive the booster dose is left behind.”
Health authorities will once again schedule whole-of-community immunization clinics in collaboration with the First Nation Health Authority (FNHA) to provide boosters to rural and remote Indigenous communities. Indigenous Peoples in urban settings will also be offered vaccines through health authority clinics, pharmacies or in their local communities with assistance from FNHA.
Vaccinations for children five to 11 are subject to Health Canada approval and are anticipated to be coming soon. The vaccine program for children ages five to 11 will draw on a separate supply of vaccine designed for children and will be delivered in parallel to the booster program. In the meantime, parents can register their child now in advance at: getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca
As of Oct. 25, 90,425 third doses have been administered in B.C.
All booster doses will be mRNA vaccines. Those who received AstraZeneca for the first or second dose will receive Moderna or Pfizer for the booster.
Health authorities and pharmacies will continue to focus on flu clinics through the fall, in addition to delivering COVID-19 boosters, as well as planning for the anticipated approval of vaccines for five-to-11-year olds (dose one and two).
More than 90% of British Columbians are registered in B.C.’s Get Vaccinated system.
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