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B.C. not recommending spring COVID vaccine boosters to general public

Boosters will target the vulnerable, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Friday.
The next vaccine push will be focused on the most vulnerable.

The provincial government will not be recommending COVID-19 boosters to the general public this spring.

The next vaccine push will be focused on those at the highest risk of severe illness from the virus, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Friday.

B.C. will now recommend people over the age of 80 or living in long-term care, Indigenous people over 70 and anyone over 60 who has not caught COVID-19 yet get a COVID-19 booster dose starting in April.

People who do not fall into one of those categories but still want a booster should contact their health-care provider for advice.

Henry said protection from the virus from previous vaccine doses or natural infection wanes faster in older people "and it tends to wane or decrease more quickly."

Looking forward to the next respiratory illness season in the fall, Henry predicted the the general public will likely be recommended to get another dose — something that could become an annual routine like the flu shot. Ideally one vaccine for both viruses will be developed, Henry suggested.

She said it is also possible a pan-COVID vaccine could be found that would provide protection for several years, but that is only speculation.

"So for the next year, I think we're still in the transition where there's much that we don't yet know," Henry said. "That's what the spring booster is, we know that there are some people who are likely to benefit from it. Most of us are actually doing pretty okay right now."

"My best guess right now is that we're likely to have a recommended dose for everybody going into respiratory season [in the fall]... Just using my best thinking right now unless things change, and they have changed, that we will likely do similarly to what we do for influenza where we broadly recommended, but really focus on those people who need it most."

It was three years ago Saturday that COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic.

The B.C. government announced Friday that it was lifting its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for public service workers, but that does not include health-care workers.

“The requirement to be vaccinated continues in the health-care system and it will continue in the health-care system,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix.