British Columbians who want a fourth COVID-19 vaccine will have to wait until September before they can roll up their sleeves again.
In a news briefing on Friday (July 8), public health officials unveiled the timeline for everyone aged 12 and over to begin receiving their “fall booster”.
Interim public health officer Dr. Martin Lavoie said that fall is “the best time” to receive the fourth dose. Officials anticipate a surge of COVID-19 infections in the fall and winter and the fall timeline would offer greater protection for those future waves.
Lavoie also pointed to the development of bivalent vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that will likely be available in the fall. Bivalent vaccines are designed to offer the same protection as the original vaccines as well as increased immunity to the newer Omicron strains that are dominant now.
With hospitalizations and case counts rising in B.C., the province maintains the best method of protection of COVID-19 is vaccination —despite the fact that many people are more than six months out from their most recent booster dose and the current BA.5 strain of Omicron has shown the ability to cause multiple reinfections.
Currently, only those aged 70 and up, Indigenous people aged 55 and up, and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable have had access to fourth doses. Dr. Penny Ballem, executive lead of B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan, said that people who are close in age to those groups and would like a booster before the fall will be able to get one.
There are still 1.3 million British Columbians who have not received their third dose of vaccine. Health Minister Adrian Dix emplored people to get their third dose as soon as they can.
On Monday (July 11), the province will begin sending reminder notifications to people who have not yet received their third dose.
Aside from vaccination, the best methods to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is wearing a good quality, well-fitted mask, avoiding crowded indoor spaces, and ensuring spaces are well ventilated as COVID spreads through aerosols which hang around in the air like smoke.