B.C. expands availability of third dose to immunocompromised, vulnerable people

B.C. expands availability of third dose to immunocompromised, vulnerable people

B.C. health officials announced on Tuesday that the Province is expanding the availability of a third dose to a group of immunocompromised and vulnerable people.

During a live press conference, Dr. Bonnie Henry says that third doses will be made available for approximately 100,000 people across the Province — expanding on the initial group which included approximately 15,000 people.

“We need to ensure that we have all of those pieces in place to put us into the best position possible to get through this next few months, this means ensuring we are all fully vaccinated, both for COVID-19 and for influenza,” said Henry during a press conference Tuesday.

The provincial health officer says that invitations will be sent to people that are “moderately or severely immunocompromised.”

Dr. Henry says that people who are on active treatment for blood-malignant tumours since March 2020 and have received or are receiving systemic therapy. This includes chemotherapy, molecular therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapies such as CART or hormonal therapy and people who have solid tumours.

The new group being invited to get a third dose will also include anyone who has received or is receiving radiation therapy for cancer since October 2020.

Dr. Henry notes that health officials have been in touch with specialists in order to identify residents that will qualify for a booster shot.

Others that fall into the expanded group include people who have AIDS-defining illness, detectable plasma viral load, and people aged 65 and over with HIV.

The provincial health officer points out that there are a number of biological agents that can affect an individual’s immune system’s ability to respond to vaccines, however, Dr. Henry says that, in these instances, a third shot can be beneficial in fighting COVID-19.

“There are a number in that group whose immune systems do not respond well to vaccines and we now know that adding a third dose can actually stimulate a response that gives them as much, or at least, some protection closer to what people with a strong immune system have,” she said.

This includes people with multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus, among other illnesses.

Dr. Henry says further details regarding who is eligible for a third dose will be posted on the BC Centre for Disease Control website.

“People who are at much greater risk of severe illness…may not have had sufficient response to two doses and [a third dose] will bring these people up to the level that the majority of us who have two doses have,” said Dr. Henry.

During the press conference, Dr. Henry outlined that certain combinations of the vaccines may not be recognized in other countries, however, she says that B.C. health officials are “actively working” with Health Canada to make sure that Canada has a single, internationally recognized vaccine passport that includes the recognition of these combinations.

“I know there is a lot of concern about travel to the U.S., but right now there are no vaccine restrictions about travelling to the U.S. by air and I know they will be updating the requirements in the coming weeks as we hopefully get closer to the land border opening,” she added.

Dr. Henry reassured that B.C. and Canadian health officials are working “very closely with counterparts in the U.S.” to make sure that any “highly effective” combination of vaccines administered in our province are recognized.

According to Dr. Henry, conversations are also ongoing with the U.K., the European Union and “sun destinations” such as Mexico regarding recognizing vaccine combinations.

While speaking about vaccinations, Dr. Henry highlighted that British Columbia would be returning 300,000 unneeded doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the federal government, which will then be parcelled as part of the Canadian donation to the COVAX initiative.

“It is incredibly important for all of us in B.C. and in Canada that people around the world are vaccinated and protected against this virus,” said Dr. Henry. “That is the only way that we will get out of this pandemic.”

More information regarding B.C.’s COVID-19 response and vaccination details can be found on the government’s website.



Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!