B.C. to begin offering COVID-19 booster shots to everyone in the province

Booster shots coming for all

B.C. is set to jump aboard the booster bandwagon in a bid to stave off further COVID-19 infections.

The province said Tuesday the new booster-shot campaign will take a phased approach for those 12 and older, beginning this month and extending through to May 2022.

These third doses will be made available to British Columbians who already received their second doses at least six to eight months prior.

The timing will depend on recipients’ ages and risk levels, while vaccines will also be made available concurrently for children five to 11, pending approval from Health Canada.

Higher-risk populations are considered to be those ages 70 years and older, as well as Indigenous populations in rural locations, residents in long-term-care and assisted-living, the immunosuppressed and health-care workers who received their initial two doses at a shorter interval than the general population.

Some of these groups began receiving boosters last month and the new campaign will focus on others in those groups through to December.

The government estimates it will begin administering boosters in January to those considered clinically extremely vulnerable (but not immunosuppressed), health-care workers in long-term-care and assisted-living, health-care workers in the community and then the remaining general population 12 and older.

While mass vaccine clinics were a staple during the initial campaign, pharmacies will be drawn into the fold to help administer the booster shots.

Last week in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled new booster recommendations for recipients of the Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The AstraZeneca plc vaccine has not been approved for use south of the border, although other countries, such as Canada and the U.K. have been using it throughout their respective vaccine campaigns.

But British Columbians who initially received the AstraZeneca vaccine will only be offered mRNA vaccines — either Pfizer or Moderna.

Mixing and matching vaccines has been an accepted practice in B.C. and Canada throughout much of the vaccination campaign, but was only given the nod in the U.S. earlier this month.

Invitations for the booster shot will be sent to those registered through the Get Vaccinated program.

Drop-in vaccinations will not be permitted for people wishing to get their second dose or their booster dose.

The booster vaccines will not impact the definition of "vaccinated" for workers and employees impacted by mandates. Two doses will continue to mean a person is legally vaccinated under the passport system.

More to come...

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