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Yukon to offer 3rd dose of COVID-19 vaccine to immunocompromised people

As of Sept. 20, Yukon will offer third doses of COVID-19 vaccines to immunocompromised people, including transplant recipients and people undergoing treatment for cancer.

Territory will begin offering third doses of vaccine Sept. 20

A member of the Philadelphia Fire Department administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a person at a vaccination site setup at a Salvation Army location in Philadelphia on March 26, 2021.
A person is vaccinated in the U.S. in this file photo. As of Tuesday, 87 per cent of eligible Yukoners had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 83 per cent had received two. (Matt Rourke/The Associated Press)

Yukon will offer third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to immunocompromised people beginning Monday.

In a news release Friday, the territorial government said people who are immunocompromised are less likely to have a robust response to the COVID-19 vaccine and require a third dose to ensure they are fully protected.

"In order to ensure Yukoners who have moderate to severe immunosuppression are protected against COVID-19, a third dose of vaccine is recommended," said Dr. Catherine Elliott, Yukon's acting chief medical officer of health.

"This ensures that everyone has a fair opportunity to reach their fullest health potential and protection against COVID-19."

Third doses will be available to anyone who is moderately to severely immunocompromised due to a medical condition and/or medical treatment.

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

It includes people receiving active chemotherapy (or immunotherapy) for cancer, people who have received a solid organ transplant and are currently receiving chemotherapy or other immunosuppressive therapy, anyone born with moderate or severe dysfunction of their immune system, people living with untreated or advanced HIV-AIDS, and those who are taking certain medications that severely affect the immune system.

"It is strongly encouraged for individuals to speak to their health care provider if they are unsure if they meet the criteria," said Elliott.

The release said the third dose should be provided 28 days or more after the second dose.

It further stated that Yukoners who qualify can make a vaccine appointment for a third dose online through the CanImmunize page on Yukon.ca. Yukoners in rural communities can call their local health centre to find out when the next immunization clinic will be held.

National recommendation

Last week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) started recommending third doses be given to certain immunocompromised people

The release reads that the decision was made because "some immunocompromised people are more likely to have had a less than adequate immune response to the first and second dose of COVID-19 vaccine."

However, the committee stressed that those shots should not be considered a "booster." 

"A booster dose is used to boost the immune system when protection from a primary vaccine series shows signs of waning over time," reads the release. "The third dose is the completion of a primary series for people who meet specific criteria."

NACI still hasn't reached a decision on whether it will recommend booster shots to the broader population.

As of Tuesday, 87 per cent of eligible Yukoners had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 83 per cent had received two, according to the latest numbers on the Yukon Government website.

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