New Brunswick plans to expand COVID-19 booster shot eligibility
As Ontario, Alberta and the United States lower the age eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots, New Brunswick is planning to do the same. The province says how low the age will drop depends on supply.
“As soon as we hear from the federal government that our other shipment is on the way, we’re going to be good to go,” said Dorothy Shephard, minister of health.
On Wednesday, Ontario announced plans for boosters for anyone aged 50 and up. In Alberta, every adult will soon be eligible – beginning with the oldest.
New Brunswick’s current criteria means people 65 and up, along with high-risk groups, like those living in long-term care, health-care workers and First Nations communities, can get a booster. People who have received one or two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, as well as school personnel, are also eligible.
Nova Scotia’s criteria for boosters mirrors NACI’s recommendations - which includes boosters for high risk groups like seniors 70 and up, health-care workers and those 30 and up who are members of First Nations and African Nova Scotia communities.
In all cases, people must wait six months after their second dose to get a booster.
When asked whether NACI will widen its criteria, Health Canada said NACI is actively reviewing available evidence from Canada and other countries, and will be providing updated advice on booster doses.
“NACI considers variants of concern throughout their deliberations, and this will be a consideration for their booster program advice,” a spokesperson with Health Canada said on Thursday.
“Should every single person get a booster dose just because we’re going into a Delta dominant respiratory season and it’s been six months? I don’t think that data is there,” said Dr. Lisa Barrett, infectious disease specialist.
The emerging Omicron variant has created questions but so far, few answers.
“This is totally separate than wanting something that protects us from Omicron because we don’t actually have that data yet,” Barrett said.
Arthur Schafer teaches Ethics at the University of Manitoba. He believes provinces should provide boosters if it means protecting health-care systems.
“But we should insist that the intellectual property laws be changed so that South Africa and other countries can manufacture the vaccines without having to pay fortunes of money,” Schafer said.