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Decision on COVID-19 vaccine booster shots expected in September, Alberta government says

The Alberta government says it expects to have a decision by next month about whether to offer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to people with compromised immune systems, after U.S. health officials recommended the extra protection be made available to all Americans.

But province does not plan to offer extra shot to international travellers

The Saskatchewan government announced this week it will be offering an extra dose of COVID-19 vaccine to residents who got mixed vaccines, in order to allow them to travel to countries that require two doses of the same vaccine type. But Alberta has no plan to follow suit. (AHS)

The Alberta government says it expects to have a decision by next month about whether to offer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to people with compromised immune systems, after U.S. health officials recommended the extra protection be made available to all Americans.

Alberta Health spokesperson Lisa Glover told CBC News the government is closely watching the emerging data and research around booster shots and awaiting advice from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).

"Evidence suggests that the existing COVID-19 vaccine schedule offers excellent protection, including against variants of concern," she said.

"However, regardless of the specific type of vaccine, evidence is emerging that people with weaker immune systems may benefit from a third vaccine shot."

U.S. officials on Wednesday announced plans to dispense COVID-19 booster shots to all Americans to shore up their protection amid the surging delta variant.

In a joint statement, experts and officials with the U.S. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called for an extra dose eight months after people get their second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

"Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout," the statement said.

With 678 new COVID-19 infections reported in Alberta on Wednesday, the province marked its highest single-day increase in cases in almost three months, when the province was battling a third wave.

The Saskatchewan government announced this week it will be offering an extra dose of COVID-19 vaccine to residents who got mixed vaccines, in order to allow them to travel to countries that require two doses of the same vaccine type.

But Alberta has no plan to follow suit, Glover said.

"Individuals with two valid doses of any vaccine used in Alberta are considered to have received a complete series. We are prioritizing vaccines for those who are not yet fully vaccinated," she said.

However, she added that provincial health officials are in contact with the federal government, where officials are continuing to work on that issue.

Ontario also opened up third-dose eligibility on Tuesday, but there, the doses are targeted to select vulnerable populations, including transplant recipients, those being treated for hematological cancers and long-term care residents.

With files from The Canadian Press and the CBC's Brian Rodgers

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