Tuesday September 6, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends
Entering into fall respiratory season in this third year of the COVID-19 pandemic comes with a few unique parameters.
People in BC are at many different stages of vaccination (and some are still not vaccinated). The optimum intervals between a person’s most recent COVID vaccine shot and the next one is being sorted out and considered as BC Health begins to roll out invitations.
People age 18+ are eligible for the new incoming bivalent COVID vaccine by Moderna, which targets the BA1 subvariant of the Omicron strain, as well as targeting the original SARS-CoV2 virus (now being called the Wuhan strain).
Health care sector employees will have priority to receive the new shots.
In a nutshell, any additional shots in the fall respiratory season is a plus for protecting yourself against infection by COVID, says Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry. She includes anyone age 12+ in that if they are immunocompromised.
A Pfizer vaccine product might be coming along, says Dr Henry. That one will target the BA4 and BA5 Omicron strains, offering a more current form of protection. But BC is not waiting for that. The Fall 2022 immunization program will start next week.
Vaccine appointment registration invitations:
People who have registered in the Get Vaccinated system will receive an appointment invitation by email or to their phone.
Invitations are based primarily on the interval since your last shot. Dr Henry says ideally that is six months since your last shot.
Some residents and workers in long-term care and assisted living may end up getting their next shot 5.5 months after their previous one, as entire facilities will be done at once.
People who’ve yet to get their first COVID vaccine shot can still do that anytime, and are invited to do so for protection against COVID infection this fall.
Vaccination is the ticket:
Now that much of the BC population over age 12 years has been vaccinated (to varying degrees), it’s a different playing field compared to the fall season of 2020 and 2021.
Dr Henry says she hopes the good sensible practices for management of one’s health regarding COVID (and flu) “are baked in”. That includes getting vaccinated, practicing good hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, staying home if not feeling well, and wearing a mask if in closed indoor spaces.
If people follow those sorts of guidelines Dr Henry doesn’t see a need for “heavy handed” broad social restrictions. Though today a few times she reinforced the uncertainty that comes with COVID (and respiratory illness season in general). She says a surge of COVID infections are expected in November and December of this year, as people spend more time in indoor enclosed spaces. She doesn’t rule out the possibility of another COVID variant that throws a wrench into things.
Pharmacies & health authority clinics:
As the bivalent Moderna vaccines arrive in BC, they will be distributed to pharmacies. The shot will be available at about 1,100 pharmacies after September 19.
Flu shots will also be available at pharmacies, starting in early October.
Health Authority clinics will also be up and running for 10 weeks. In that period, there will be capacity across BC for about 250,000 to 280,000 doses of COVID vaccine to be administered (clinics and pharmacies). Today Minister Dix reminded people as to what a significant undertaking that is.
The 10-week peak rollout is expected to take place from about September 26 through December 4, 2022.
====== More to come.