New Brunswick

NACI recommends 'rapid deployment' of 2nd COVID-19 booster for some people

Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now strongly recommends that provinces prepare for the "rapid deployment" of second COVID-19 booster shots for people aged 80 and older and those living in long-term care and other congregate settings.

Advisory body strongly recommends 4th dose for seniors 80+ and those in long-term care, congregate settings

The 'greatest benefit' of a second COVID-19 booster is expected in adults 80 years of age and older, NACI said Tuesday. (Alberta Health Services)

Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization now strongly recommends that provinces prepare for the "rapid deployment" of second COVID-19 booster shots for people aged 80 or older and those living in long-term care and other congregate settings.

In a statement, released on Tuesday, NACI cites "concerning trends in the COVID-19 pandemic."

"In the context of protection against severe disease potentially decreasing over time following the first booster dose, and/or risk of immune evasion by highly transmissible variants of concern which can cause severe disease," booster shot programs for these groups should be prepared "over the coming weeks," it said.

NACI also recommends provinces may consider offering a second booster to people aged 70 to 79 in the community. 

A second booster dose "may also be considered" for adults under 70 in or from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, in collaboration with health-care and Public Health partners, it said.

Second booster dose immunization programs for other high-risk groups and the general public "may be needed in the future if data suggest concerning trends in COVID-19 pandemic," it added.

New Brunswick Department of Health officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Last week, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told CBC officials were reviewing data to come up with a plan to deliver fourth doses to New Brunswickers.

"For immunocompromised individuals, a primary series is now considered three doses," she said in an emailed statement.

"A booster dose (i.e. 4th dose) of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine can be booked for an immunocompromised individual if at least five months has passed since their 3rd dose and they are 12 years of age and older. A declaration of eligibility form is not needed to book a 4th dose."

A complete list of the medical conditions and treatments that would result in a person being considered moderately to severely immunocompromised is available online.

NACI suggested provinces should provide second booster shots six months after people received their previous dose, but a shorter interval "may be warranted in some individuals in the context of the rapidly evolving pandemic," it said.

Its updated guidance is "based on evidence on the need for (e.g., decrease of vaccine effectiveness over time), and benefit of (safety and effectiveness) a second booster dose in the Canadian context."

It follows U.S. federal regulators recently authorizing a fourth dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for Americans 50 and older, and for anyone aged 12 and up with compromised immune systems.

In December, NACI had recommended a fourth shot only for moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals, but noted data on additional boosters was "limited" at the time.

The advisory body is now reviewing existing recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine booster doses for adults under 50 and youth aged 12 to 17, and will release a statement with updated advice "in the coming weeks."

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