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Dr. Bonnie Henry comments on COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for B.C. residents

Who will require a third dose and when?
Photo via Flickr/Government of BC

B.C.'s top doctor says some British Columbians will be prioritized for coronavirus vaccine booster shots this fall. 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters Tuesday (Aug. 31) that there's data that "increasingly shows" that people who have certain immune compromising conditions may not necessarily develop a response after two doses of a vaccine. 

People who would qualify for the booster dose may include those who have hematologic malignancies (blood cancers) and those who've had a solid organ transplant and are on immune suppressant drugs or stem cell transplants.

"There's data that increasingly shows that they don't necessarily develop a response after two doses of vaccine and that a third dose may actually increase the ability, the probability, that they'll have a good immune response," she said.

The health officer underscored, however, that the booster sees "increases in 55 per cent of people, which means it's not a panacea." 

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and the British Columbia Immunization Committee (BCIC) are currently looking at COVID-19 data and putting together the plans to provide the third dose to these groups, she added. 

In regard to residents of long-term care, Henry said health officials are not seeing a "diminution of protection" but that they will continue to look at data to determine an appropriate interval for a third dose.

The ideal interval might be "somewhere around six to eight months," added Henry, noting that this would be in October for most residents of long-term health care. 

"We'll be coming up with our recommendations around the best options and the best timing in the coming weeks."

At the time of this writing, 85 per cent (3,676,744) of all eligible adults in B.C. have received their first dose of vaccine and 77.6 per cent (3,355,134) received their second dose.