B.C. appears to be tackling booster backlog ahead of ‘boosted’ third dose rollout
Beginning this week, more B.C. pharmacies will start offering third doses of COVID-19 vaccine with mass immunization clinics soon to follow as the province kicks its booster program into high gear.
As of Friday, everyone aged 60 and older is eligible to receive a booster in B.C. six months after their second shot.
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The province is also prioritizing Indigenous people, those with double doses of AstraZeneca, pregnant women and those living or working in health care or long-term care settings.
More than 24 hours after the province announced it was ramping up its booster rollout, Anita Huberman got a New Year’s Day gift she wasn’t expecting.
“At 1130pm I received a text message indicating I can register for my booster shot,” the Surrey Board of Trade president told Global News.
“I was a little bit surprised.”
Huberman and her husband both have AstraZeneca for their first dose and Moderna for their second – but he has yet to receive his text notification for a third dose.
“I’m excited for that further protection,” said Huberman.
She immediately booked the earliest time available, and said friends and colleagues are also starting to receive their third dose notifications.
In Saanich Sunday, there were long lines at University Heights Mall for those who’d booked booster appointments.
The head of B.C.’s vaccination rollout, Dr. Penny Ballem, said Friday that the onset of Omicron forced the province to change course.
“It became evident over those two to three weeks prior to Christmas that we were going to have to make a switch,” she said during the final COVID-19 briefing of 2021.
Thousands of COVID-19 booster appointments still not booked in B.C.
“Our intent is to get most people their vaccination, their booster dose within one to two weeks of their invitation,” added provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
It will take time to clear the backlog of more than 800,000 people who’ve waited more than six months without a booster.
On Monday, the province will begin texting about one-third of those still waiting – to start booking based on who’s waited the longest.
Those remaining will then be invited to fill available slots – a process that will repeat until everyone waiting over six months gets an invite.
Huberman is eagerly awaiting her Jan. 12 booster date.
“It’s not going to protect me from COVID but it’s going to minimize my symptoms,” she told Global News.
“For me that’s really important, especially as I’m dealing with the public every single day.”
Once everyone over age 60 is booked for a third dose, B.C. will start inviting anyone aged eighteen and up to book a booster six months after their second dose.