B.C. care providers want fourth dose of COVID vaccine approved

Those caring for those in B.C. most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus are waiting anxiously for news about the plan to roll out fourth vaccine doses as Quebec's rollout is now underway and the U.S. just approved the shot. Liza Yuzda reports.

It has been almost six months since long-term care residents and immunocompromised people living in B.C. got their third dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and care providers say it’s time to start giving out a fourth.

Quebec began rolling out their fourth dose Tuesday for those who are immunocompromised, live in care homes, or are over the age of 80. In the U.S., the FDA has approved the fourth dose of Pfizer for Americans 50 and older.

Terry Lake, the CEO of the BC Care Providers Association says the clock is ticking for those living in long-term care who have been at the front of the line waiting for vaccines throughout the province. He adds he would like to see the province follow suit and get the fourth dose rolled out.

“We know that this is a very vulnerable population, average age in their late 80’s. They are very susceptible to raspatory viruses It’s been six months since their first booster, which means the immunities are going to be waning. So if we get COVID into our homes at the moment, we have a very, very vulnerable resident population,” Lake said.

Lake suspects the province may be waiting for federal approval of the fourth dose, although B.C. has moved ahead of federal recommendations in the past, like increasing the duration between first and second doses. But, he remains optimistic the province will formulate a plan to roll out the fourth dose as soon as possible.

Lake adds, the recent staffing shortage among long-term care homes will not stop them from moving swiftly once the shot is approved.

“We are ready to go …. Protecting our residents is the most paramount thing we do, so everyone will put all other tasks aside to make sure we get the second booster into as many arms as possible.”

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B.C. Health Minister, Adrian Dix says the province is well aware many people are hitting the six month mark since their last injection in long-term care homes.

“We are generally amongst the first provinces to move on these things and I expect you’ll see soon that this is an issue under active review. When you get a dose, it is sometimes dependent on the previous doses.” said Dix.

Dix specifically points to the six month mark as a potential fourth dose roll-out date. That would be this April for long-term care residents who received their third dose back in October.

“A key priority for us continues to be ensuring those most vulnerable to COVID-19, who have been given priority at every stage in our B.C vaccination program continue to see their health protected to the maximum possible extent,” Dix said.

“I think you’ll hear something from Dr. Henry and myself very soon.”

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