Confused about the mixed messages for the fourth dose of COVID? You are not alone – National |

A seventh wave of COVID-19 appears to be making its way across Canada, but many have been confused about who is eligible for the fourth dose of the vaccine and when they can receive it.

Health experts say there’s no need to panic: As long as those who are most vulnerable to serious outcomes from the virus are as up-to-date on their vaccinations as possible, younger and healthier people should wait until the fourth dose or even updated vaccines are likely to become more widely available in the coming months.

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“Those who are over the age of 60, those who are immunocompromised should get their fourth dose. And that is really to reduce your risk of hospitalization in the future,” said Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist.

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“If you’ve had three doses now and you’re not in one of those 60-plus or immunocompromised groups, you can be pretty reassured that your risk of hospitalization is very low.”

Last week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released new guidance on fall booster vaccinations ahead of a possible future wave of COVID-19 in Canada.

It recommended that Canadians at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 be offered a fall booster dose “regardless of the number of booster doses previously received.”

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It says this should include people 65 and older, residents of long-term care or housing facilities, and people 12 and older with an underlying medical condition that puts them at high risk for severe COVID-19.

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NACI also recommended that boosters “may” be offered to all other people 12 to 64 years of age, regardless of how many booster doses they have previously received.

Some provinces and territories, such as Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nunavut, and Yukon, have opened their eligibility for a second booster, which would be a fourth dose of the vaccine, to anyone over the age of 18 and 12, respectively, who has waited a certain number of months since your last dose.

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But others, such as Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories only offer a second booster to those over 50 and the immunocompromised, as well as First Nations, Inuit and Metis.

Meanwhile, Alberta and British Columbia only allow the fourth dose for people over 70 and vulnerable populations.

Both BC Chief Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Ontario’s top physician Dr. Kieran Moore said they are waiting to open up second booster availability until more people in their provinces get their first boosters.

This has raised concern among those who are not yet eligible, many of whom have expressed their doubts on social media.

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Additionally, some provinces have opened eligibility to younger age groups while others have not, causing confusion and raising questions about why public health officials are issuing conflicting messages about the same virus and vaccine depending on where they are. it lives

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This inconsistent messaging at a time when the response to COVID-19 has been criticized by many opponents of vaccines and lockdowns may undermine public confidence in the system, says Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a disease specialist Infectious Diseases at Toronto General Hospital.

“When you have several seemingly credible voices recommending different approaches, and when you have guidance that sometimes contradicts what various experts are saying, and when you have provinces with different policies, all of that contributes to more general public confusion and mistrust. ” he said.

“I think that’s a very, very important issue.”

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But as the virus changes and the world’s understanding of it changes, advice on how to respond to it will change and be different for people at varying degrees of risk, Chagla said.

The flu vaccine, for example, has different doses for people based on their age and risk factors, just like other vaccines, he noted.

When COVID-19 vaccines started rolling out, everyone needed them uniformly, so the messages could be the same across Canada. Now, depending on an individual’s previous vaccination status and personal risk factors, the advice could be different, Chagla said.

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“Now, it really has to be focused, but with (public health) transparently discussing why there is a focus on certain populations compared to others.”

The top priority is ensuring that anyone who hasn’t yet gotten a third dose — a group that encompasses millions of Canadians across the country — gets a boost, Bogoch said.

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For those who are younger, healthier and up-to-date on their vaccinations, there may be some benefit to postponing the fourth dose, given that some vaccine makers have already submitted new formulations that protect against Omicron variants to health regulators, he said. . .

“I think people are frustrated because the system is not easy. This is a virus that we are learning about every day,” Bogoch said.

“But, you know, we shouldn’t get frustrated if the messages change. It’s really updating the science and finding that certain groups benefit more from more vaccines than other groups where the benefits are less profound.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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