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Launch of spring COVID-19 vaccine boosters marks end of respiratory illness season

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 11:56 PDT, Tue April 16, 2024

People in British Columba will have access to a free spring COVID-19 vaccine booster to maintain and extend protection for themselves and their loved ones against serious illnesses from COVID-19. 

The spring COVID-19 booster will be available throughout the province at pharmacies, regional health-authority clinics, some primary-care offices, and community health centres. This spring vaccine remains free and available for everyone six months and older.

Given the decreased rates of viral respiratory infections in the community, additional infection prevention and control measures implemented in fall 2023 in health-care settings are no longer required at all times. People are still encouraged to wear masks in health-care settings as appropriate, to continue to cover coughs and stay away from others when feeling sick. Health-care workers will continue to wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as masks and respirators, in accordance with their point-of-care risk assessments.

While the peak of the respiratory illness season has passed, the SARS CoV-2 virus continues to circulate at lower levels in the community. The protection from infection that COVID-19 vaccines provide decreases over time, particularly in older people, so a spring COVID-19 vaccine booster will ensure people stay protected.

Aligned with advice from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, B.C. health officials recommend the following people consider receiving an additional dose of the XBB.1.5 COVID-19 vaccine:

  • adults 65 and older;
  • Indigenous adults 55 and older;
  • adult residents of long-term care homes and assisted-living facilities (including those awaiting placement); and
  • individuals six months and older who have been diagnosed as clinically extremely vulnerable (a CEV 1 or CEV 2 condition).

B.C.’s COVID-19 spring program is focused on providing vaccines to those most at risk of severe COVID-19 illness or complications, and people who have not yet received an updated vaccine dose. However, anyone who feels they would benefit from an additional dose of the XBB.1.5 COVID-19 vaccine can contact the call centre at 1 833 838-2323 to book an appointment or walk into a pharmacy where the vaccine is available. Vaccine appointment capacity is available in all regions.

The 2023-24 respiratory illness immunization campaign was launched to the general population on Oct. 10, 2023. As of end of day March 31, 2024, B.C. had administered 1,457,246 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and 1,562,023 doses of influenza vaccines.

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