Friday July 8, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends
British Columbians can look ahead to their next vaccine dose.
Today Health Minister Adrian Dix announced that a fall booster program is the next step in BC’s COVID-19 immunization plan to help keep people protected from the severe illness.
So far in BC, 91.2% of the vaccine-eligible population (age 12+) have received their second dose. About 93.8% have received just their first dose. Those numbers were stated today by Dr Penny Ballem in a news conference along with Dix and Acting Provincial Health Officer Dr Martin Lavoie.
Today Dr Ballem referred to the first two doses as ‘the primary series’. The descriptor of ‘fully vaccinated’ is not heard much any more. Two doses were considered to be ‘full vaccination’ when there was a requirement for a BC Vaccine Passport (as evidence of full vaccination). Now there is encouragement to have received three doses (i.e. primary series plus a booster).
The interval between doses of COVID vaccine is stated fairly plainly as being six months, as was reiterated in today’s press conference.
Fourth dose (second booster):
As many people are now close to or beyond six months for receiving their second dose or even their booster (third shot), BC Health is getting organized to roll out their fall immunization campaign.
Since April 2022, a second booster dose has been recommended and available to people living in long term care facilities, people over age 70 years, Indigenous people over age 55, and those of all ages who are immunosuppressed.
A fourth dose of COVID vaccine will be included in the Fall 2022 respiratory season immunization campaign. There will also be shots offered for influenza.
The timing of a fourth dose is not yet certain. Health Canada has yet to receive manufacturer’s data on the new vaccine products which are expected to be bivalent (i.e. prepare the recipient against the original SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as the Omicron-type variants including the most currently prevalent BA.5).
Second booster likely bivalent:
But today Dr Ballem implied that the fall immunization campaign will offer a bivalent booster, in that she somewhat discouraged anyone who’s not received their third dose to just wait now for the fourth.
Anyone who has not had their first or second doses is encouraged to do that without delay.
The most recent National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendation is that people at increased risk of severe illness and anyone age 65+ should receive a booster this fall.
For everyone else (age 12 to 64) NACI and BC Health also encourage a fall booster.
Children age 6 mo to 4 years:
The vaccine program for children age six months to four years will draw on a separate supply of vaccine designed for small children and will be delivered in age-appropriate clinics, it was announced today by Dr Ballem.
That’s similar to how the pediatric vaccine for ages 5 to 11 years has been managed.
Five pandemic risk factors:
Today Acting Public Health Officer Dr Martin Lavoie said that the COVID immunization campaign has enabled “bringing people back together safely”.
He cited the current risk factors in the ongoing pandemic as being the continuing evolution of variants (presently BA.5 is about to be fully dominant); the rate of hospitalizations due to COVID; the number of cases, outbreaks and clusters; that spread is multi-jurisdictional and global; and managing the interval between doses.
Deaths and hospitalizations have decreased significantly, Dr Lavoie said today. But he emphasized that 1.3 million people in BC have not yet gotten their COVID vaccine booster (third dose).
“Getting all recommended doses is very important,” said Dr Lavoie today. He said it “makes a difference in what we see, month over month”, in terms of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Dr Lavoie emphasizes: “The virus continues to circulate. The pandemic is not over.”
Seven vaccine products used to date:
Today Dr Ballem outlined that the BC COVID Immunization program has availed itself of seven different vaccine products over the course of the pandemic. That list includes:
- Pediatric Pfizer
- Nova Vax
- AstraZeneca and Covishield (these two are no longer used)
When the bivalent vaccine products arrive in the fall, that will bring the total of vaccine products used to nine. The bivalent products will be the mRNA type by Pfizer and Moderna.
BC COVID immunization planning for Fall 2022 (July 5, 2022)
Get your booster, Pfizer & Moderna working on bivalent doses (June 30, 2022)
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Mary P Brooke is the founder and editor of Island Social Trends (formerly West Shore Voice News and Sooke Voice News).