Invitations for COVID booster shots in B.C. go out this week | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Invitations for COVID booster shots in B.C. go out this week

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

The new COVID bivalent vaccine is expected to start arriving in B.C. this week so invitations will start going out to those eligible to get a fall booster dose soon after.

While COVID has moved into the background over the summer, it’s still unclear how the fall respiratory disease season will roll out, Ministry of Health officials said at a news briefing today, Sept. 6.

The Omicron variant is still prevalent. The new vaccine, being bivalent, means it's effective not only against the original COVID strain as well as Omicron.

While two or three doses give good protection against infection, the immunity fades. Even those who have been infected with COVID are not necessarily protected from getting sick again.

One in eight who are infected do not get any immune response at all and can not only be reinfected but can also get severely ill, health officials said.

For those who do get some protection from infection, the level of protection varies depending on the variant people were infected with as well as their individual immune systems.

READ MORE: 'Medical apartheid:' Anti-vaxxer loses battle after ICBC fired her

Invitations will start going out later this week, as long as the vaccine does actually arrive in B.C.

Since supplies are limited (only about 110,000 doses are expected this week), the vaccines will be rolled out to those who are most vulnerable first, including residents of long-term care homes, those over the age of 60 and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable. For most of them this will be their fifth COVID vaccine.

Health-care workers are a high priority as well.

Also on that priority list are adults in or from First Nations, Métis or Inuit communities, residents of congregate living settings such as migrant worker housing, shelters, correctional facilities and group homes who are over 12 years old.

While everyone five and older is eligible for booster doses, those under the age of 18 will only get the new bivalent vaccine if they are at high risk.

Initially, vaccines will be administered through pharmacies but as supplies increase by late September, community clinics will be held as well.

By early October, people will be able to get a flu vaccine at the same time as their fall booster.

More than four million invitations to get booster doses will be sent out with 250,000 to 280,000 people being vaccinated each week.

In order to get a vaccination, people need to be registered with Get Vaccinated B.C. online here or by calling 1-833-838-2323.

In terms of how well vaccinated B.C. residents are, children who are six months to four years old have a low rate of vaccination at 13%. For those five to 11 years old, 46.5% have received two doses. Booster doses for them are just now being rolled out. For those 12 and over, 91.4% have at least two doses, while 60.2% have had three.

Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable include those undergoing active cancer treatments, have chronic kidney, liver or lung diseases, have diabetes, are pregnant, have cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease or thalassemia. It also includes things like chronic neurological conditions such as epilepsy and cerebrovascular disease and those who have Down syndrome, congenital heart disease or other chronic heart diseases, including pulmonary hypertension, are obese or have substance use disorders.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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