Booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be administered to seniors and elders living in British Columbia’s long-term care and assisted living homes in the coming weeks.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix made the announcement during Tuesday’s weekly COVID-19 update.
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Health officials have already begun offering a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to members of BC’s population that are considered clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV). Henry explained that the immune systems of some individuals, including the elderly and seniors, don’t respond to the COVID-19 vaccine as well as others.
“We do know that the people we prioritized first to receive the vaccine are our elders and seniors in long-term care and assisted living,” she says. “And we know that older people have less strong immune responses to most vaccines, although these ones are really good.”
The risk of the elderly or seniors contracting COVID-19 is much greater as well, and breakthrough infections in long-term care homes or assisted living can be dangerous.
“We’ve also seen in these congregate settings, even when we have most of these residents fully immunized, if this virus is introduced into those settings, there is a significant number of people who will have breakthrough infections, and this, in an elderly population, can be lethal.”
Booster doses for these residents will begin next week and will be done in conjunction with flu shots. Henry adds that based on the data available, six months after a senior’s second dose is the best time to issue a booster.
She also addressed whether booster doses were being planned for the rest of BC’s population, saying that “right now, there is not a need for most people in the community.”
“Right now, for the program that we had in BC, we are seeing good, strong protection,” Henry stresses. “We’re not seeing a need for a booster dose for most of us right now and we’re going to continue to monitor that to follow the studies that are being done.”
“And that’s important because there are a lot of things that are changing around the virus, around the vaccine technology, and there’s a lot of additional studies going on and work being done by vaccine manufacturers.”