British Columbia offers fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine to people 70 and older or vulnerable groups

British Columbia has announced its fourth doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for people over the age of 70, residents of long-term care facilities and Indigenous people 55 or older, with the province just days away from the removal of its last epidemiological sanitary restrictions.

Additionally, people clinically considered to be at high risk are now eligible for an additional booster dose.

The new booster program targets high-risk groups who are now arriving six months after the first booster dose (the third dose) and who may benefit from reduced protection, particularly from the Omicron variant.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said this was a very important procedure for us. “We know that the older we get, the faster we move forward. [COVID-19] Antibodies will be decreased. »

“An additional booster dose at this time will provide a rapid antibody surge…and will provide protection this spring when we return to normal activities in the community.” »

The announcement is in line with guidance from the Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), which on Tuesday recommended the “rapid deployment” of a second booster dose of COVID-19 for people age 80 or older.

Henry said the test shows high antibody levels in young people, due to vaccination and/or infection with COVID-19, but much lower levels in people over 70.

Currently, she says, a fourth dose is not recommended for the rest of the population.

“We may need an annual booster, and maybe it is available for those most at risk. Those are the things we will look at in the fall,” she said.

Fourth-dose vaccination programs have already begun in some long-term care homes, and invitations will soon be sent out to those who qualify.

Terry Lake, executive director of BC Care’s Providers Association, said the fourth dose is “very good news.”

“We were really worried that there was an open window where immunity would start to wane and we would see the virus start destroying nursing homes again,” he said. All points are west Host Robin Burns.

He said most nursing homes have the resources to roll out the fourth dose, but will still need support from health authorities to help get everyone vaccinated.

BC Vax Card Program Expiration

The news comes as British Columbia prepares to end its BC Vaccine Card program taking effect Friday at 12:01 a.m. PT, with businesses able to transition from a COVID-19 safety plan to a response plan. against low-risk infectious diseases. The vaccination requirement for secondary school residents has also been abolished.

(Province of British Columbia)

According to county data, unvaccinated people still account for the largest proportion of deaths, intensive care patients and hospitalizations related to COVID-19.

Those who haven’t received the full set of COVID-19 vaccines — typically two full doses and a booster dose — are at much higher risk than those who have.

According to the latest figures, 59% of adults aged 18 and over received a booster or a third dose, while 91% received two. Only 56% of eligible children aged 5-11 received their first dose.

Members of the public arrive for a performance at the Queen Elizabeth Theater in Vancouver on March 24. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The highly contagious Omicron BA2 variant now accounts for 70-75% of all new infections, according to Henry, and is responsible for the recent rise in cases.

“We see from the global data that it is more contagious but does not cause more severe disease,” she said. “Here in British Columbia, people who have received a booster dose until the age of 70 have very strong protection against serious diseases. »

Henry said the county is compiling data on healthcare professionals’ immunization status that will be shared publicly so individuals can make informed decisions about the private practitioners they receive care from.

Hospital admissions due to coronavirus jumped over the weekend, with nearly 50 people hospitalized from Friday. Information on new deaths has been delayed, and the county says those numbers won’t be available until Thursday.

Last week, independent COVID-19 designers told CBC that it’s too early to say B.C. is in the sixth wave of rising cases, but he urged residents to be vigilant as cases begin to increase.

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