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COVID-19 booster shots on the way for B.C. residents

Image Credit: UNSPLACE/CDC
September 01, 2021 - 7:00 AM

While still struggling to get the COVID-19 vaccination rate up in B.C. and pushing to get second doses into arms, health officials are now looking into a third or booster shot.

First up will be people with health conditions such as blood cancer, organ or stem cell transplants or who are on certain immune suppressant drugs.

Research has shown they don’t necessarily become immune after two doses and a third dose will increase that likelihood, but only by about 55 per cent, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a news briefing Tuesday, Aug. 31.

“We’re putting together the plan to be able to provide that third dose to that group of people and I expect that will happen in the next week or so,” she said.

Next up will be residents of long-term care homes, who were the first to get vaccinated in B.C.

Data varies across the country on the need for third doses and research is being done on how much the effectiveness of the vaccine diminishes over time and what the best interval between doses will be.

It’s looking like that will be six to eight months since the second dose, which would mean starting to administer third does for long term care residents around October, Dr. Henry said.

More research has to be done on boosters for the rest of B.C. residents.

While Israel and the United States are talking about needing to do that soon, that’s because they stuck with the initial guidelines from the vaccine manufacturers and had very short periods between the first and second doses.

READ MORE: Dr. Bonnie Henry defends 'real world' choice to delay vaccine booster

Countries like Canada and the U.K. had longer gaps.

“That gives us a stronger and longer lasting protection,” Dr Henry said. “We want to make sure we know the appropriate timing and whether it is needed.”

If third doses are needed, those likely won’t be started until next year.

Vaccine manufacturers are also looking at modifying the vaccines in response to the virus as it changes over time, she said.

READ MORE: Early 2nd doses of COVID vaccine now being offered outside Central Okanagan hotspot

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