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Province to roll out third dose COVID-19 vaccine campaign

The booster shots will start with higher-risk populations

B.C. will be rolling out third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to anyone who wants one, as long as it has been between six and eight months since they received their second dose.

The province will start the booster rollout with higher-risk populations, as it did with first and second doses. In fact, the program will also look much the same otherwise.

Third-dose vaccinations have already begun for the province's most vulnerable, including those in care homes. Priority will depend on a person's interval since their second dose and their risk and age group. The post-second-dose interval will range from six to eight months, according to the province.

Higher risk populations will include areas that are fully vaccinated and seeing breakthrough infections, most notably those ages 70 and older, and Indigenous groups.

From September to December of this year, groups to be invited for third shots include those deemed clinically extremely vulnerable (and immunosuppressed), rural, residents in long-term care, seniors ages 70 and older, Indigenous people ages 12 and older, home-support clients and seniors in independent living and health-care workers who had a short interval between their first and second doses.

Beginning in January 2022, the province will begin offering third doses to those deemed clinically extremely vulnerable (and not immunosuppressed), health-care workers in acute care/long-term care settings, community health-care workers and, finally, all remaining people ages 12 and older.

Invitations will be issued through the government's Get Vaccinated system, which was used previously for first and second doses for most people. Drop-ins will not be offered for second or third doses during the third-dose rollout, but appointments can still be booked for anyone who needs a first or second dose.

"We know that drop-ins can provide quite a pressure on our clinics and gum up the flow of patients or residents coming in. Please book your vaccine through the website or call centre," said Dr. Penny Ballem, who is leading B.C.'s vaccine rollout under provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Moderna (Spikevax) and Pfizer (Comirnaty) will be offered as options and the province said there is no need to align a third dose with the first and second doses, meaning either can be used. Those who received AstraZeneca will be offered an mRNA vaccine.

As for supply, the province said it remains "robust" for the remainder of 2021 and that the federal government has already procured vaccines for use in 2022.