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B.C. to offer 3rd COVID-19 vaccine doses to severely immunocompromised people

Dr. Henry says part of this group likely did not mount a full immune response to first two doses
A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Jan. 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The province will begin sending third dose invitations to people who are severely immunocompromised starting on Monday (Sept. 13).

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the announcement, saying that these individuals will be drawn from the list of clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people that were prioritized for initial doses in the spring.

The CEV group includes about 300,000 people with varying levels of immunosuppression. The first group of 15,000, who will receive texts and emails offering a third dose starting Monday, includes solid organ transplant recipients, people who are actively being treated for hematologic cancers and lymphoma, people who have taken anti-CD20 or B cell depleting agents since January 2020 or with severe primary immunodeficiency and people who have received bone marrow and stem cell transplants.

“Studies that show it show that many people in this group get no or very few antibodies even after two doses of vaccine and the third dose can stimulate a moderate response in as many as half,” Henry said.

“This means that even though you have three doses of vaccines, it is still important for people who have severe immune compromising conditions, to continue to take precautions to avoid exposure.”

Data about third doses for moderately immunocompromised people, about 120,000 individuals, is still being reviewed but updates could come as soon as late September or early October.

The rest of the clinically extremely vulnerable group, about 165,000 people who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, do not require a third dose based on current data, Henry said. If booster shots are offered to the general population, however, this group of people will be prioritized.

Monday’s announcement follows guidance released last week from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) which stated that the severely immunocompromised should be offered a third dose to bring their immune response closer to that of health individuals.

Henry said that the 15,000 people considered severely immunocompromised will be able to go to any vaccine clinic to receive their third dose after they receive their text or email.

READ MORE: Immunization panel says immunocompromised should receive 3rd COVID-19 vaccine dose


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