Doctors at the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) are calling on Indigenous people to get a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine as the best way to protect themselves against the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of the virus.
Since it was first detected in November last year, Omicron has spread quickly around the world and is now the most common variant in many areas, including BC.
The immune response to vaccines may wane over time and as new variants evolve. That has happened with the COVID-19 vaccines, however research shows that booster doses can help combat that decline in protection.
“The message is clear: get vaccinated with the booster as soon as you are eligible," said Dr. Shannon McDonald, Chief Medical Officer with the FNHA. “That will provide the best protection against the severe and tragic outcomes that can occur from COVID-19 infection."
Dr. McDonald says she and her colleagues are concerned that fewer than 30 per cent of First Nations people in BC have received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That compares to 86 per cent who have had one dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or 75 per cent who have had two doses (or are considered fully vaccinated from one dose of the Janssen viral vector vaccine).
“We need everyone who's five and older to get fully vaccinated – and everyone who's 18 and older to get their booster dose if it's been six months since their second dose," said Dr. McDonald, adding that booster doses are considered so important that pregnant people are being given priority and may get their booster eight weeks after their second dose.
The provincial immunization registration system sends direct invitations to book appointments when people are eligible, however the system does not have the contact information for many of the First Nations people who received their vaccinations from an FNHA-sponsored community clinic. In these cases, people who had their second dose more than six months ago should contact Immunize BC if they haven't already been invited to book an appointment.
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