The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is now recommending people over the age of 80 and those living in long-term care homes get a second booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

While health restrictions have loosened in Manitoba, care home workers are still taking a cautious approach.

Cecile Bautista works at Maples personal care home, which experienced one of the province’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks.

She said all her coworkers are vaccinated and are very careful around the residents.

“We use PPE,” noted Bautista. “We follow all our rules and regulations about the PPE.”

According to the Long Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba, about 20 care homes in the province are in an outbreak.

The association said it’s currently a balancing act between being careful and taking care of residents’ physical and mental health.

“It’s really critical that we provide as much flexibility as possible while still safeguarding the residents,” said Jan Legeros, the association’s executive director.

With care homes still battling the virus, news of a possible fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is welcome.

As of Tuesday morning, NACI is now recommending the “rapid deployment” of second boosters for people over the age of 80, and those living in long-term care homes.

“We are very, very pleased to see this,” Legeros said. “We are hoping the province will implement this very quickly, especially in light of the outbreaks we are seeing.”

NACI is also recommending expanding the second booster eligibility to anyone over the age of 70 as well as rolling it out on First Nations.

In a statement to CTV News, the Government of Manitoba said, “The province is aware of NACI’s updated recommendations and is currently reviewing. If public health advice changes, updates will be provided accordingly.”

But for the people on the front lines, the sooner seniors can get the dose, the better.

“The vaccine is very helpful for them because they fight for the virus and their immune system becomes more good,” said Bautista.

NACI says eligible people should wait six months after their first booster before getting the second one.

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