VaxChamp Paul Williams
More than a year after the COVID-19 vaccines became available to First Nations people in BC, most of us have chosen to add this extra level of protection against the pandemic.
As of Feb. 6, more than 82 per cent of First Nations people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while a further 76 per cent are fully vaccinated with both doses.
“Although more people are getting vaccinated every day—first dose, second dose—fewer people than we would hope have gone to get their booster dose," said Dr. Shannon McDonald, FNHA Chief Medical Officer.
Despite booster shots becoming available as early as September 2021 for First Nations individuals 18 and over who are six months past their second dose, only one in three have opted to get their booster.
The good news is that the majority of Elders have received their booster doses: 68 per cent for those in their sixties, over 78 per cent for those in their seventies, and over 81 per cent for those in their eighties and older.
Unfortunately, many younger First Nations people who are eligible for a booster have not yet received their booster shot. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, only one in five have received it.
Dr. McDonald hopes that this will improve, and that First Nations people of all ages will choose to get the booster dose to increase protection against severe illness.
“It may not prevent all infections, but it does boost waning immunity after the first two doses, and it will prevent more serious disease and hospitalization at a time when our health care system is already stretched. “
A concern Dr. McDonald shares with many other doctors at this time is the doubt that has crept up regarding the effectiveness of the vaccines – a doubt likely due to the fact that even some of the people who are fully vaccinated contracted COVID-19.
However, this doesn't mean the vaccine isn't working. In fact, the booster vaccine is doing its job in these cases by reducing the risk of “severe illness" after infection with COVID.
An individual with two doses and their booster shot who contracts COVID-19 may experience mild to moderate symptoms requiring staying home and bed rest. However, a more severe illness is far less likely.
To learn more about the booster shot and why vaccines are your most effective protection against COVID-19, visit our “Get Vaccinated" page on FNHA.ca.