Manitoba

With uptake lagging, province urges Manitobans in 50s and 60s to get 'incredibly important' 3rd vaccine dose

The province is calling on Manitobans, especially those in their 50s and 60s to get their third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine because almost half who are due still haven't gotten the jab.

Dr. Joss Reimer says after the age of 50, risk of severe outcomes jumps

A woman gets a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in a December 2021 file photo. Manitobans over 50 who haven't yet gotten their third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are being urged to do so as soon as possible, because they are at greater risk of severe outcomes of the virus, says Dr. Joss Reimer. (Tsafrir Abayov/The Associated Press)

The province is calling on Manitobans, especially those in their 50s and 60s, to get their third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Almost half of people in that age group who are eligible still haven't gotten that third shot, the medical lead of the province's vaccine implementation task force says.

About 92 per cent of of Manitobans over age 50 have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and about 90 per cent have had two doses, Dr. Joss Reimer said at a Wednesday news conference.

"But we are still seeing a significant gap when we talk about third doses, with less than 61 per cent of Manitobans over the age of 50 currently protected by a booster," she said.

"So we really want to do better here."

There's been good uptake for third doses in the 70-plus population, but it lags in the 50 to 69 age group, she said.

"I know that many people in this age group are healthy, leading productive, vibrant lives in the community, so it can be very easy to not feel worried about the severe outcomes of COVID," she said in an online news conference Wednesday.

"But we really can't ignore what we're seeing in the hospitals. Once you hit the age of 50, your risk of severe COVID goes up substantially, and it takes an even sharper increase after the age of 60."

Public health officials have said in previous waves of the pandemic that two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are very effective at preventing severe illnesses. However, as time goes on and the coronavirus continues to mutate, the immunity provided by those doses has waned.

That's why "the booster dose is incredibly important for your protection," Reimer said, particularly for those who might have any other health issues.

"If you have any of the health conditions on our list — and many of us do — whether that's heart disease, COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], kidney disease, liver disease, cancer and so forth, please get your booster as soon as you're eligible."

WATCH | Dr. Reimer on why 3rd doses are important:

Just over half of Manitobans in their 50s and 60s have booster dose: Reimer

5 months ago
Duration 2:25
Dr. Reimer is urging all Manitobans, especially those in their 50s and 60s, to get their booster dose as soon as possible.

Currently, only Manitobans 18 and older are eligible for a third vaccine dose. The province advises those 50 and up, or anyone 18 and up living in a First Nations community, to get their third shot five months after their second. For all other adults, the recommended wait is six months.

As for third doses for youth between 12 and 17, Manitoba will follow the National Advisory Committee on Immunization's guidance, Reimer said. NACI is set to meet this month to discuss whether a third dose will be recommended for the age bracket.

As of Wednesday, 85.1 per cent of eligible Manitobans five and older have one dose of the vaccine, while 78.3 per cent have two and 36.5 per cent have three, according to the online vaccination dashboard.

Just under 2,400 doses were scheduled to be administered Wednesday.

Reimer said there are many places offering appointments and walk-ins for all doses of the vaccine.

The RBC Convention Centre provincial vaccine clinic is reopening its doors for walk-in appointments beginning Thursday, as well.

Those who are eligible can book their appointments online, by calling 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC) or by visiting the province's vaccine finder website.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Bergen is a journalist for CBC Manitoba and previously reported for CBC Saskatoon. Email story ideas to rachel.bergen@cbc.ca.

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