BC health agencies offer conflicting recall information

A week after top British Columbia health officials made a confusing announcement about a fall recall campaign and bowed to public pressure to allow those who want the fourth COVID vaccination -19 sooner to get them, it seems even those within the public health system are unclear about the new guidelines.

For clarity, those guidelines are as follows: Health officials recommend waiting until September to get a second booster dose before the fall respiratory disease season. However, adults who received their first booster dose at least six months ago and don’t want to wait until September can call to schedule an appointment now.

Overnight, the information provided by the Department of Health and the BC Center for Disease Control has changed significantly, but still differs from information provided by other health agencies, including Immunize BC.

CTV News asked the Department of Health to clarify whether someone receiving a booster dose now would not be eligible to get an updated bivalent vaccine for better protection against Omicron when such vaccines become available. CTV News also asked if they could get one six months later, or if they would “lose” their chance for a fall booster if they got a fourth dose now.

The ministry referred CTV News to the BCCDC’s website, which said “anyone 12 years of age and older can receive a second booster dose six months after their first booster,” although Friday’s announcement only referenced for persons 18 years and older.

The site also said “if you are eligible and aged 18 or over and think you need your second booster dose now.” When CTV News asked if that meant there was no minimum expectation for adults, the department referred to the website and did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails for clarification.

The next day, the BCCDC had quietly changed the “Second Booster Dose” section of the website to new wording. He currently says, “Planning is underway for a fall booster dose for people 12 and older… If you are 18 or older and it has been at least six months since your first booster, you can call to make an appointment at 1 833 838-2323. »

The old language of the BCCDC website is visible on the left, the new language on the right.

Meanwhile, the Immunize BC website’s section on second boosters still cites the old policy: “Currently in British Columbia, a second booster dose is offered to persons 70 living in long-term care facilities (or awaiting placement in a long-term care facility), (and) Aboriginal people 55 years of age and older.

The Immunize BC website section on second recalls still cites the old policy.

SECOND ALREADY POPULAR BOOSTERS

The number of people seeking their second booster has tripled week over week as the latest Omicron subvariant spreads rapidly and sends more British Columbians to hospital. The surge in bookings has come even though many people are unaware that adults can get their next shot six months after the last, if they choose.

The Department of Health continues to urge people to wait until September to receive their fourth vaccine, but many infectious disease experts say those who are high risk or who spend a lot of time with high risk people should consider receiving a second reminder sooner. All health experts, public health officials and observers agree that the first booster is the most important dose, because two do not provide the kind of long-lasting protection against serious illness that they originally hoped for.

NO DETAILS ON ACCESS TO BIVALENT VACCINES

CTV News also asked who will get priority for bivalent vaccines, which will include targeted protection against Omicron variants. The Department of Health said it would review new guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and referred to last week’s press conference, where the acting provincial health officer expressed optimism, the Bivalent vaccines will soon be approved by health regulatory authorities.

“What is coming, because we also want to have a vaccine adapted to Omicron, because currently the vaccine we have is not adapted (to Omicron)”, said Dr. Martin Lavoie. “It makes a difference, but it will be better to have this vaccine, and it’s coming.”

But many experts believe that even if approved in the fall, initial supplies will be limited, meaning care home residents, the elderly and healthcare workers will be prioritized over the general public. , as they will be furthest from their last dose. and at high risk of exposure and severe or repeated illness. That would likely mean the general public wouldn’t have access to it until later this year or early 2023.

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