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COVID-19 vaccine booster doses coming to British Columbians in long-term care

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – People in long-term care and assisted living in B.C. will soon be given the opportunity to receive a booster shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the shots will begin to be provided next week, adding data shows it’s best to wait about six months after the second dose before a booster shot is administered.

“We’ve been looking at the data on when’s the best time to provide a booster dose,” Henry said.

“The data that’s come out shows that somewhere around six months after dose two is probably the best time to do that.”

Some British Columbians who mixed and matched their COVID-19 vaccines under provincial guidelines have been calling on the province to find solutions to international travel woes.

When asked whether the province is planning to offer third doses for people in that situation, Henry said no, because “these things are in flux around the world.”

“We’re not systematically requiring or providing people with a third dose because we know that these are changing,” she said. “We know that the U.S. regulations are changing and it’s not that people are prohibited from travelling, it’s that they may have restrictions on the things they can do when they travel.”

She says her team is working with other health officials across Canada, as well as those in the U.S. and with the WHO to create a “harmonized approach” to proof of vaccination around the world.

“We’re not systematically providing a third dose for people just because of their desire for international travel.”

A North Vancouver man who received AstraZeneca (now known as Vaxzevria) and Moderna (renamed SpikeVax) told us he doesn’t meet the eligibility requirements for travel to some countries. He told NEWS 1130 last week he is an IT project manager who works abroad, and feels stranded as a result.

According to the federal government, about 10 per cent of the Canadian population are in the same boat, having received mixed doses.

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On Sept. 13, the province announced a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine would be made available to severely immunocompromised people.

“People who are immunocompromised don’t respond as well to any vaccine, and have a reduced ability to fight infection. This means that they may not have responded adequately to the first two doses and given them sufficient antibodies that they would be protected. And this puts them at much higher risk than most of us,” Henry explained at that time.

“For these people, a third dose is needed to give enough protection that most of us would get after our primary series of two doses.”

Tuesday’s announcement for long-term care residents came as the province brought in new COVID-19 restrictions for the eastern Fraser Valley. Private gatherings in homes in Abbotsford, Hope, Chilliwack, Agassiz, Mission, and Harrison are limited to five people or one household.

Outdoor gatherings of 10 people are allowed unless everyone is fully vaccinated.

Organized events are limited to 10 people inside or 50 outside unless everyone has received two vaccine doses.

With files from Martin MacMahon, Nikitha Martins, and Claire Fenton

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