The province announced that COVID-19 booster shots will be available to every British Columbian ages 12 and up by the end of May 2022.
The announcement came after months of health officials saying simply that they were studying the science of booster shots and who would need them.
So, what is the science?
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that while two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are absolutely effective in preventing hospitalization from the virus, some groups are starting to see breakthrough cases. This is most likely to happen in older individuals, the immunocompromised and Indigenous Peoples – and that’s why those groups are being prioritized. The immunocompromised – about 115,000 people – have already received an invitation to get their third dose, as have residents in long-term care and assisted living.
As time goes on, however, other people may also become vulnerable, especially those who got their vaccines in the winter and early spring. That includes many seniors, the clinically extremely vulnerable and Indigenous Peoples.
“Our vaccines are highly effective. However, we 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,” said Henry. “We’re starting with the people who need them most to continue to do all we can to keep people in B.C. safe from this virus and its variants.”
What shots will be offered as boosters?
Booster shots will be either Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines, including for individuals who received one or two doses of AstraZeneca. Health officials say it doesn’t matter which of the mRNA shots you get as a booster – they are interchangeable.
Do I have to get it?
No. Health officials say that for the purposes of the B.C. vaccine card program and for immunization mandates – such as for health care workers – two doses will be sufficient.
When will I be eligible?
That depends. In general, the goal is for everyone to get their booster shot six to eight months after they received their second dose. Long-term care residents and immunocompromised individuals are already eligible, but here’s who comes next:.
From now until the end of 2021:
- Seniors 70+
- Indigenous Peoples 12+
- Long-term care support clients
- Seniors in independent living
- Health care workers who got dose one and dose two in a shorter interval.
From January to May 2022
- Clinically extremely vulnerable (who are not immunosuppressed)
- Health care workers in acute care, long-term care and assisted living
- Health care workers in the community
- Everyone in B.C ages 12+.
How will I find out when I’m eligible?
Everyone will be contacted via the Get Vaccinated system, the same way you were likely contacted for your first two shots. If you’re not registered yet, you can do so at getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca or by calling 1-833-838-2323. If you are already registered from your first two shots, you don’t need to register again.
Where can I get the shot?
Booster shots will be available at community immunization clinics run by health authorities and pharmacies across the province. In small or remote communities, everyone may be vaccinated at the same time through a “whole of community system,” as happened in places such as Tofino and Prince Rupert for first and second doses.