BC health officials strongly recommend that British Columbians ages 12 and older get their second booster shots in the fall prior to the upcoming season of respiratory illness.
Until now, only people aged 70 and older, those with severely immunocompromised immune systems, and Indigenous people aged 55 and older were eligible for second boosters.
dr. Penny Ballem, the executive leader of BC’s COVID-19 immunization plan, tells everyone else it’s best to wait until their fourth shot so their immunity is strongest during the fall when respiratory viruses peak.
“It’s all about the fall. We want you to wait until you get your next booster in the fall,” she said Friday.
Those in special circumstances who feel they need a second booster sooner should contact the BC immunization call center, she said.
The minimum recommended interval between the first and second booster injections remains six months.
Health officials also said more customized bivalent vaccines will be available by the fall.
BC’s Acting Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Martin Lavoie, said bivalent vaccines will provide immunity against the original coronavirus strain and the more contagious Omicron strain currently causing transmission across Canada.
Bivalent vaccines are still awaiting approval from Health Canada and are expected to become available first as mRNA shots from Pfizer and Moderna, he said.
“We have direct experience with COVID vaccines around the world. The manufacturers have developed a vaccine that better protects against Omicron [and it] seems promising.”
British Columbia in the third wave of Omicron
On Thursday, Health Secretary Adrian Dix said cases are rising in British Columbia, although not as significantly as hospital admissions.
He said the province continues to focus on immunization as the best defense against COVID-19, reiterating that vaccines continue to provide strong protection by making hospitalization five times less likely and death seven times less likely.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has warned that the respiratory disease season will pose a challenge this fall.
“That’s where we expect to be challenged again with COVID-19 and the need for people to get an extra dose in the fall, regardless of how many doses they’ve received so far,” Dix said.
The province has so far failed to signal that new public health restrictions are on the way to halt the new wave of Omicron powered by the BA.5 sub-variant.