Dr. Bonnie Henry defends 'real world' choice to delay vaccine booster | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides a COVID-19 update, Tuesday, March 2, 2021.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Province of B.C.
March 02, 2021 - 4:31 PM

B.C.’s top doctor defended the decision to delay the COVID-19 booster shot for up to four months today, saying that “maximizing the benefit of a single dose for more people in B.C. is going to get us to our post-pandemic goal sooner.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was put on the defensive this week by Canada's chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, who said the change in the immunization plan was a ”population-level experiment.”

“It is a little bit unfortunate that the National Science Advisor who, you know, obviously was not involved in some of these discussions and (the) decision making, perhaps didn't understand the context that this decision was made in,” Dr. Henry said.

The science supporting the decision, Dr. Henry said, is laid out in reports published by the BCCDC, Quebec, Israel and the UK. Additionally, she said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization would soon be offering support of this view in an upcoming statement.

“This makes sense for us, knowing that it is a critical time right now with the limited amount of vaccines that we have in the coming weeks, to be able to provide protection that is safe and long-lasting for in the short term,” she said. 

B.C. will continue to do the studies on the vaccine program and its efficacy, to help “understand the level of protection that we achieve when we immunize more people, more quickly." In the meantime, scientists and doctors are continuing to learn about the virus, how it's transmitted and to review and adapt their approach based on scientific evidence and real world data.

“We've also learned that outside of the labs, on the ground and in the real-world, the initial dose of the approved vaccines that we have here in Canada are highly effective,” she said. 

“Our goals, as I talked about yesterday, have always been to reduce morbidity and mortality… to reduce sickness and death from COVID-19 to protect our healthcare system so that we can provide those necessary services to everybody who needs health care. And, while doing that, to minimize as much as we can, the disruption that this pandemic has made on our community and our society.”

The vaccine strategy currently adopted will help move B.C. in that direction, she said.

“And in our context right now in Canada and in B.C., of limited (vaccine) supply as cases continue to increase and transmission and outbreaks in our community continue, our focus is on maximizing the number of people who are benefiting from that very high, real world protection that we are seeing from a first dose of vaccine,” she said.

There were an additional 438 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours in B.C., 16 of which were in Interior Health, raising the total to 81,367 since the start of the pandemic. There are 243 people in the hospital, 63 of whom are in intensive care.

In the last 24 hours two more people have died from COVID-19, bringing the total number of people who've died inB.C. to 1,365.

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