British Columbia is the first jurisdiction in North America to offer a COVID-19 booster shot to the general population

So far, British Columbia had followed other Canadian provinces and the United States Centers for Disease Control in offering the third dose to people living in long-term care facilities, the elderly and people living in high-risk or immunocompromised environments.

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British Columbia will be the first jurisdiction in North America to offer a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to the general population.

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On Tuesday, provincial health official Dr. Bonnie Henry said that starting in January, a booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine would be offered to British Columbians aged 12 and older who have already received their second dose.

“Our vaccines are very effective. However, we are starting to see a gradual decline in protection over time,” Henry said. “As a result, we are taking the proactive initiative to extend the boosters to everyone in our province.”

So far, British Columbia has followed other Canadian provinces and the United States Centers for Disease Control in offering the third dose only to people living in long-term care facilities, the elderly and people living in high-risk or immunocompromised environments.

British Columbia’s new program will provide millions of reminders to people aged 12 and older between January and May.

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People will be notified that they are eligible for the booster via the Get Vaccinated portal, between six and eight months from their second injection.

So, for example, if you received your second injection on August 15, you will receive a booster between February and March of next year.

Dr Penny Ballem, British Columbia’s immunization program manager, said pharmacies would be involved in rolling out the recall and a call would be made for retired healthcare workers to help with the many injections needed over the next nine months. .

She said the booster program would be the ‘extra boost’ needed to support British Columbia until the COVID-19 pandemic becomes rampant – that’s when it will be managed. like other community health problems.

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Ballem added that there was plenty of vaccine supply and the rollout of the booster would not be affected by supply shortages like what happened in February this year.

Henry noted that these supply issues led to a longer gap between doses (to manage supply), which has proven to be beneficial, as research shows that long intervals between doses benefit blood levels. ‘immunity.

Booster clinics will be run by health authorities in community locations, while some areas will be offered boosters as part of a community-wide immunization approach.

Henry said having two vaccines will still count as being fully vaccinated in British Columbia.

There were 457 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Tuesday and two deaths. There are 4,829 active cases of the disease in British Columbia, of which 390 are being treated in hospital, including 155 in intensive care.

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In British Columbia, the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 since late August has shown a dramatic and continued increase for the North Health Region, from over 30 to over 50, a steady decline from interior health from above 30 to below above 15, leveling off slightly above 10 for Fraser Health, and down to below 10 for Interior Health and Vancouver Coastal Health.

Sarah Otto, an epidemiologist at the University of British Columbia, said British Columbia’s numbers have been relatively stable for several weeks.

“Basically the goal is to bend the curve and make sure the curve doesn’t exceed your hospital’s capacity,” she said. “The death rate is roughly proportional to the case rate in that most cases are among the unvaccinated and most deaths among the unvaccinated.”

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She said there was nothing ‘at the moment’ to worry her about the COVID-19 numbers in British Columbia

“As more people get vaccinated, the rate of cases and deaths should go down,” Otto said.

She said what is likely to happen over the next six months to a year are different stages of waning immunity to COVID-19.

If the data shows infections and deaths spiraling out of control again, the public can expect to see periods of restrictions reimposed, she said.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said Tuesday marked the deadline for vaccinating all of B.C.’s 126,300 hospital workers, and 4,090 had so far refused.

Of these, 7% belonged to Interior Health (1,369) and 5% to Northern Health (376), compared to 2% in the two largest health authorities (Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health).

  1. Horacio Bach, adjunct professor of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia's medical school, said while it makes sense to provide reminders to seniors in nursing homes who are most at risk of reinfection and serious illness, it may be premature to decide to give boosters in the general population.

    Will British Columbia offer a third dose of vaccine to everyone? Here’s what we know so far

  2. A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

    BC to begin COVID-19 booster shots for long-term care residents and assisted living facilities

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Thelma J. Longworth