(Dr. Bonnie Henry, Minister Adrian Dix/BC Gov Flickr)

The BC government just announced that COVID-19 booster shots will be available to any eligible British Columbians by January 2022.

Announced on Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Bonnie Henry, Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Penny Ballem announced the next steps in BC’s immunization planwhich includes booster doses for anyone eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said a three-dose series may provide protection for many years, and may be enough for full protection against COVID-19.

Henry said the booster dose will be optional and mostly recommends the booster shots for vulnerable populations or for people in communities with high rates of transmission.

Boosters will not affect British Columbians’ BC vaccine card status.

Those who wish to receive a booster can receive it between six to eight months after their Dose 2 vaccinationtiming on when you will receive a booster will depend on one’s risk and interval from Dose 2. The largest high-risk populations are those aged 70+ and Indigenous Peoples.

Either mRNA vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna, will be offered; people who have received AstraZeneca will be offered an mRNA vaccine for their booster.

Vaccines can provide protection from COVID-19 of up to 93 per cent, and BC Health officials noted that protection is stronger by about 10 per cent when the interval between 1st and 2nd doses is more than six weeks apart.

BC plans to start vaccinating higher risk populations now and then move to the broader
population by mid-January 2022.

British Columbians can register for a booster on the BC Get Vaccinated system.

The province said it is looking to diversify who can distribute booster vaccinations as well. This will include allowing pharmacies, community partners, and large groups of immunizers from many health professions to deliver vaccines.

Still, BC health officials said, their top goals in the fight against COVID-19 are still to protect the vulnerable and manage health care capacity.

But while there are close to 85% eligible and fully-immunized British Columbians, COVID-19 is still infecting many, most of whom are unvaccinated77 per cent of people in ICU are people not fully-vaccinated.

That protection lasts at least four months, with a slight decrease in infection after 16+ weeks, but maintains immunity from being hospitalized.

The delta variant represents more than 90 per cent of COVID-19 cases in BC, Dr. Bonnie Henry said, but while delta has less of a margin of error, Henry said, she made it clear that the vaccines are still providing enough protection.

Invitations for the booster shot will come through the Get Vaccinated system for those who have registered online. The provincial call centre, 1-833-838-2323, will continue to be available for those who can’t access online booking.

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