Originally published on Oct. 27, 2021. Updated on Nov. 2, 2021.
VaxChamp Richard Morrison
The province has announced that COVID-19 booster shots will be offered to everyone who wants one, starting with higher risk populations, including Indigenous people.
Between now and May of 2022, the booster campaign will cover all BC residents aged 18 and over who have received their second dose of vaccine six to eight months ago.
Booster doses will initially be offered to the general population age 70 and older, Indigenous people 18 and older, and people with compromised immune systems. Health care workers who had an interval of less than 42 days between doses one and two will also be prioritized.
For ages 12-17, no booster is planned at this time, even in vulnerable or high risk youth, including Indigenous people. If a 17-year-old is turning 18, they may be eligible for a booster dose.
Booster doses are already underway for other priority groups, including residents of long-term care and assisted living facilities and vulnerable people living in shelters.
The broader population will be able to get their booster shots between January and May. Timing will depend on the person's age, risk and the interval from their second shot.
“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 Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer.
What kind of vaccines will be used for a booster dose?
Currently, both the mRNA vaccines SpikeVax (Moderna) and Comirnaty (Pfizer BioNTech) are the two options for booster doses. The mRNA vaccines work the same way, so if you've received the first dose of one mRNA vaccine and are offered the other for your second dose, it is safe to receive it and it will offer you the same protection.
People who received AstraZeneca as either a first or second dose will also be offered an mRNA vaccine for a booster. There are no concerns with safety or effectiveness from mixing these vaccine types.
If you live in a First Nations community (i.e., on reserve)
The First Nations Health Authority will once again work with communities to provide on-reserve booster clinics, beginning with rural and remote communities and those with residents who received their second doses more than six months ago and have the shortest intervals between the first and second doses. At-risk communities or those with active outbreaks will also be prioritized.
If you live away from home (off-reserve)
Indigenous people living off reserve may be immunized in clinics organized by their regional health authority, at participating pharmacies, or possibly in their local First Nations communities.
The general public – including Indigenous people who received their first two doses through provincial clinics – will be invited to get their booster dose via the provincial online vaccination system.
Vaccines for children under 12
Approval from Health Canada for vaccines for children ages 5-11 is expected soon. Registration for this age group is open on BC's online vaccination system.
Still need your first or second dose?
Vaccinations continue to be offered to those who still need their first or second dose. As of Oct. 25, nearly 90 per cent of people 12 and older in BC have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 84 per cent have received their second dose. The numbers are much lower for First Nations people, however, at 77.5 per cent and 67 per cent respectively.
Most hospitalizations due to COVID-19 (77 per cent) are people who are not fully vaccinated.
To register for a vaccine clinic, visit: gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated.html.
You can also find a vaccine clinic in your region at: gov.bc.ca/vaxforbc
For more information about COVID-19 vaccines see: fnha.ca/vaccine.
Q & A: COVID-19 Booster Doses (PDF)