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Upcoming 4th COVID-19 vaccine dose “expected and appreciated” by BC’s Seniors Advocate

“It was expected and I think it is appreciated by seniors in the community.”

According to BC’s Seniors  Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, her office has been hearing from  BC’s seniors, asking when they might be getting a 4th dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In the coming weeks, a 4th dose will be offered to people in long-term care, people who are 70 and older, people who are extremely clinically vulnerable, and Indigenous people who are 55 and older.

“I think as we’ve done throughout the pandemic, public health has taken a sort of evidence-based, risk assessment in terms of ‘what are the measures for what populations,'” Mackenzie said.

We know that people over 70, particularly those over 80 and in long term care, have really borne the brunt of severe illness and death in this pandemic and they need to be protected. We also know that these boosters are extremely powerful, and I would absolutely encourage anybody who is eligible for a fourth booster to get one when it is their time.”

“That becomes very clear when you look at the data between severe illness, hospitalization, and mortality, between those who have had no vaccine, those who have had just two doses, and those who’ve had a booster shot. Getting the second booster, and it may be that certain groups have to get a booster every six months for the next little while.”

She recognized that for many seniors, it’s their age and condition is what is dictating  the probability of severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

“We know that in long-term care, people living there by virtue of living there, are more likely to be frail, to have compromised immune systems,  and to not be able to produce robust antibody responses the same way, and that’s played out as we’ve seen the waning protection of the vaccines,” Mackenzie explained.

She added that the mRNA COVId-19 vaccines have been more  effective in seniors than flu vaccines.

“It’s just that the protection wanes over time and so you have to get this boost, and that’s a good thing because that’s better than a vaccine that might have offered less protection over a longer period of time. You’re better off to have more powerful protection, and to get the booster when you need it.”

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