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Dr. Bonnie Henry comments on third COVID-19 vaccine dose for some B.C. residents

The people in this first group will receive a text notifying them to go into any clinic in B.C. to get their third dose this week.

B.C.'s top doctor says some immunocompromised British Columbians will be prioritized for a third coronavirus vaccine dose this fall. 

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters Monday (Sept. 13) that a third dose of vaccine is now recommended for people who are severely immunocompromised. Data shows that people who have certain immune compromising conditions may not necessarily develop a response after two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Now, the province will start to provide a third dose to severely immunocompromised people in B.C. The group consists of people who may have had a solid organ transplant and are on immune-suppressant drugs or who have had stem cell transplants. People with severe primary immunodeficiencies will require a third dose, too.

The people in this first group will receive a text notifying them to go into any clinic in B.C. to get their third dose this week.

For the vast majority of people, a third dose would be considered a "booster shot," explained Henry. "It means it would increase our response and prolong our response.

"But for people who are immunocompromised, it's a different story."

People who are immunocompromised don't respond as well to any vaccine; they also have a reduced ability to fight infection, noted Henry. 

"This means that they may not have responded adequately to the first two doses and given them sufficient antibodies that they would be protected. And this puts them at much higher risk than most of us."

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has also identified a second group of people in B.C. who are moderately immunocompromised and might need a third dose as well to complete their primary series. The British Columbia Immunization Committee is currently reviewing data to identify those risks and will provide an update for those individuals in late September or early October. 

There is also a third group of people who have conditions that makes them more susceptible to having severe illness from COVD-19 but also have a "strong immune response" to two doses of vaccine. They will not be contacted at this time but health officials will continue to review the risk to this population. 

Henry underscored that "if you did not receive an invitation, you do not need a third dose." 

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