Tuesday September 28, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Editor | Island Social Trends
Residents in long-term care in BC will soon be given a COVID vaccination booster shot, said Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry today. As well, seniors in the community over age 70 may also be able to receive a booster does this fall. That’s based on evidence showing the effectiveness of COVID vaccines begins to decline after four months.
That next-step in the BC Immunization Plan was announced today by Dr Henry in her weekly COVID media session, based on evidence of waning immunity after six or seven months.
Along with Health Minister Adrian Dix, Dr Henry emphasized that pretty much everything about COVID management is evolving, as data and science continue to indicate the path to better next-steps in managing the pandemic.
COVID cases began in BC early in 2020 and the pandemic was officially declared in BC on March 17, 2020. Residents of long-term care were the first recipients of COVID vaccines in BC, followed soon after with a priority for health-care workers and also essential visitors.
As the respiratory season (influenza and other airborne illnesses) is coming up fast for fall 2021 into winter 2022, the added protection in long-term care is felt to be warranted.
No booster yet for general population:
As for a booster (or third dose) of COVID vaccination for the general population, Dr Henry says that “most of the rest of us” don’t require the added protection.
That’s even with two key factors in the immunization profile of British Columbians at this time: people were immunized at different points in time during the year, and perhaps more importantly were immunized along a wide range of intervals.
Vaccine dose intervals:
In spring 2021 people were advised that 11 weeks was the ideal interval between injections of COVID-19 vaccine (with many people getting their second shot in June or July after 11 weeks). During the summer Dr Henry said that “six to eight weeks” was the recommended interval (confirmed in a statement from BC Health in September). Today she is restating her long-held view that “longer is better” as to the length of time between first and second doses.
A few months ago Dr Henry said that a third booster might be considered in January 2022 for the general population. And while today she said that a booster is “not a need for most of us”, she quickly followed that with a comment about looking at manufacturer’s trial data and how now the UK is doing things, as to even half a dose being required. That’s a harbinger of future doses to come for British Columbians.
So long as COVID is an actively circulating virus, and given that vaccine technology is adaptive and evolving in a way that is accessible to the public health market, further injections of COVID vaccine are almost certainly in the future for everyone in the province. It’s just now a matter of how much, and when, and at one interval.
The interval part will be the trickiest aspect to work out, given that in 2021 there has been a wide range of intervals among those who have received two doses of any type of COVID vaccine.
The level of effectiveness of two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine (viral vector type) is about 80%, said Dr Henry today, while also saying that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (mRNA type) yield as much as 90% effectiveness. Effectiveness is measured as preventing the degrees of impact on people’s health from the COVID virus, i.e. infection, serious illness, hospitalization and death.
BC & Vancouver Island COVID profile heading in Fall 2021 (September 25, 2021)
Recommended COVID vaccine interval is longer than 28 days (September 18, 2021)
Vancouver Island: COVID infections in over 1,600 kids & teens (September 16, 2021)
PHAC: Same COVID vaccines in Canada, new names (September 16, 2021)
===== BC GOVERNMENT COVID LINKS:
- COVID modelling update at September 28, 2021 (link to come)
- To learn about how B.C. counts its daily COVID-19 cases in hospitals, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021HLTH0058-001844
- To learn about the BC Vaccine Card and how to access yours, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/vaccinecard.html
- For the provincial health officer’s order on masks in public indoor settings, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/25217
- For the Aug. 12, 2021, announcement on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for long-term care workers, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/25143