Michel Saba, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — As a sixth wave of COVID-19 sweeps across the country, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is stepping up its stance on the booster dose, also known as the “third dose,” and now recommends “strongly” to adults aged 18 to 49 to receive it.
“A booster dose increases the effectiveness of the vaccine against such (serious) consequences to more than 90%,” insisted Monday Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada.
Ms. Tam pointed out that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine protect less well against the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron than against the previous ones and that a booster dose offers better protection “even if you have been infected “.
In a press release sent on Tuesday, the NACI explains that it took into account additional data on the duration of protection of the first two doses, the safety and real effectiveness of a booster dose and the evolution of the epidemiological situation in country.
Accordingly, the expert group believes that a first booster dose ‘should’ be offered to all adults aged 18 to 49 at least six months after a second dose has been given.
Adolescents aged 12 to 17 who are likely to be at high risk of severe consequences from COVID-19, including those who are immunocompromised, as well as those who reside in congregate living environments, who are part of “racialized” communities or marginalized” affected “disproportionately” by the virus are the subject of the same recommendation.
NACI believes that a booster dose is recommended, but not strongly recommended, for other adolescents.
In December, he had strongly recommended the booster dose for those aged 50 and over.
According to a report of April 3, 57.1% of Canadian adults and 60.7% of Quebec adults had received a booster dose.
NACI recommends that the second booster dose, or fourth dose, be deployed quickly. Those who would benefit the most should be given priority, including residents of homes for the aged and congregations, as well as those aged 80 and over who live in the community.
NACI also strongly recommends the fourth dose ― considered the second booster dose ― for people between the ages of 70 and 79.
At this time, only Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines are approved for a first booster dose in ages 18 and older.
Despite believing it to be “semantics,” federal public health is now saying Canada is in a sixth wave as the number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise “everywhere” in the country, a confirmed Dr. Tam.
“Right now, everywhere across Canada, no matter where you are, it’s very likely that the Omicron variant, BA.2, is spreading quite widely in your community,” she said.
This increase in transmission – which has followed the easing of public health measures – can be seen in several indicators: the average number of daily cases, the positivity of laboratory tests, and sewage samples.
According to Dr. Tam, wastewater monitoring is a “very interesting, innovative and important” tool that is complementary to PCR tests and other tools. Ottawa also aims to increase the population covered by this monitoring from 60% to 80% and aims to make the data more accessible to the population.
Dr. Tam believes that citizens should wear the mask, whether the province they are in “recommends it or not”.
“Others in your community are more at risk from the virus and wearing a mask and getting vaccinated will help them,” she said.
Dr. Tam, however, refused to recommend that provincial public health authorities reintroduce this measure.
Moreover, as the Easter weekend approaches, Dr. Tam made a plea in this direction, noting in passing that “all religions promote compassion and the protection of others and the community”.