Nova Scotia

Nova Scotians 50+ can book second COVID-19 booster starting July 8

Nova Scotians aged 50 to 69 will be able to book a second COVID-19 booster late next week, but Public Health says a fall booking could better ward off the disease. 

Public Health says bookings open next week, but urges people to wait for fall

Starting next week, Nova Scotians 50 and older can book a second booster shot appointment at a pharmacy, or get one at a drop-in clinic. (Robert Short/CBC)

Nova Scotians aged 50 to 69 will be able to book a second COVID-19 booster late next week, but Public Health officials say a fall booking could better ward off the disease. 

There could be a new vaccine that works better against the Omicron variant of the virus by fall, according to a Monday news release. But people in that age group can book a booster any time after July 8 as long as it has been 168 days or more since their last shot of the vaccine. 

"Our advice is to wait because the first booster still offers strong protection against severe disease for most people in this age group. COVID-19 activity is currently relatively stable, but we expect that we will have a resurgence later this fall or winter when we typically see surges in respiratory viruses," Dr. Shelley Deeks, the deputy chief medical officer of health, said in the release. 

Pharmacy bookings open July 8 and can be made online or by phone during the day at 1-833-797-7772. People don't need appointments for drop-in clinics offering the boost.

NACI, Public Health say wait for second booster

Deeks, who chairs the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, said the organization still recommends most people get the initial two-shot series and one booster, not the second. 

"We've heard from some Nova Scotians that they would like the choice to get their second booster dose sooner, so the government made the decision to open up the eligibility to allow these people to make an informed choice for themselves," she told reporters Monday.

"But we want them to know Public Health does not recommend they receive their second booster dose at this time, but to wait until fall."

She said there is evidence of waning immunity among people 70 and older, which is why the second booster was made available to that age group in the spring. She said Public Health recommends timing the next shot with the next surge to maximize protection. 

She said new vaccines are being developed, but aren't yet approved in Canada, so waiting could lead to a stronger vaccination. She noted that people who are immunocompromised are already eligible for four shots and should stick to their recommended schedule. 

She said the province is not seeing an uptick in COVID-19 sickness among Nova Scotians 50 and older, and the evidence indicates the three vaccines continue to work. But people 70 and older do show more serious risk, she said. 

"Within each of the age groups, the people that are at highest risk are those people that remain unvaccinated," she said.

Those people can still get the two-shot vaccine and the booster.

Second booster doses are expected to open to younger groups in the fall, but Deeks could not say exactly when.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Tattrie

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Jon Tattrie is a journalist and author in Nova Scotia.

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