On Tuesday afternoon, health officials in British Columbia unveiled their plan for people over the age of 12 to receive COVID-19 booster shots.
The announcement was made by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Executive Lead of BC’s immunization rollout team Dr. Penny Ballem.
Here’s everything that you need to know about the new program, including how booster doses will affect your BC Vaccine Card and when you can expect to receive a booster dose (if you choose).
- You might also like:
- Here's how to add your COVID-19 vaccine passport to Apple Wallet
- BC health officials report under 500 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths
- Nearly half of K-12 teachers feel unsafe in BC schools
Why COVID-19 booster shots are being offered
According to the BC government, booster doses are an additional shot of the COVID-19 vaccine that helps maintain and lengthen a person’s protection against the virus.
Henry says that while the vaccines are highly effective, officials are starting to see a “gradual decline in protection over time.”
“As a result, we are taking the proactive step of expanding boosters to everyone in our province,” she explains.
Who can receive a booster dose
Anyone over the age of 12 who has received their first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and wants a booster shot can receive one.
Who will receive a booster shot first
The province has already begun giving booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to people who are immunocompromised or older adults who live in long-term care or assisted living.
From November 2021 to January 2022, health officials will focus on different populations and groups that are more at risk of getting COVID-19.
This includes the following:
- Seniors above the age of 70 (born in 1951 or earlier)
- Indigenous people over the age of 12 (born in 2009 or earlier)
- Residents in independent living facilities or people who receive long-term home support
- Health care workers who received their first two COVID-19 doses on a “shortened schedule”
- Residents of rural remote indigenous communities
When BC’s broader population can expect to receive a booster dose
For members of BC’s broader population that wish to receive a COVID-19 booster dose, booking invitations will start in January 2022. A person’s booking invitation should be between six to eight months after the date of their second dose.
How to receive an invitation to book
In order to receive an invitation to book, a person must be registered in BC’s Get Vaccinated registration system, and their immunization record must be up to date.
How long you’ll need to wait before being able to book an appointment
While invitations to the broader population are expected to begin in January 2022, health officials stress that the timing of invitations will be based on risk and age. Similar to BC’s initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout, expect it to move from oldest to youngest.
Which vaccine you can expect to receive
The booster dose will be an mRNA vaccine, either Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna). Health officials say that there’s no need to get the same vaccine you received for your first or second shot and either Pfizer or Moderna is acceptable for the booster.
Anyone who received AstraZeneca in the past will receive an mRNA vaccine.
Where immunization clinics will be located
Similar to first and second doses, shots can be received at community-based immunization clinics and community programs. Pharmacies are also being brought on board to support the booster dose program.
At this point in time, the booster doses won’t affect a person’s full vaccination status on the BC Vaccine Card.
The BC Vaccine Card, which is currently required at most public indoor spaces, will not need to be updated to reflect that you’ve received a booster dose.
It remains to be seen if the ruling will change, as the BC Vaccine Card requirement is set to expire in January, with the possibility of extension.
As of this week, the BC Vaccine Card is in its second phase, meaning people need to show they are fully vaccinated at venues that require proof of vaccination.
With files from Amir Ali