Saskatchewan

Residents, experts welcome Sask. expansion of eligibility for 2nd COVID-19 booster dose

The Saskatchewan government will now let anyone over the age of 18 access their second booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, as long as they received their third dose at least four months prior.

3rd dose must have been received at least 4 months prior

Saskatchewan expands eligibility for the second COVID-19 vaccine booster dose to anyone over the age of 18. (Alexander Quon/CBC News)

Saskatchewan residents and experts are welcoming the news that anyone over the age of 18 can now receive their second booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as long as they received their third dose at least four months prior. 

"I live with people who are highly vulnerable and I want to make sure that I don't bring home something that could cause them serious harm," Natasha Williamson of Saskatoon said on Friday. 

Williamson, 39, says the uncertainty of when should would get her fourth dose has been stressful.

The wait since she received her third dose at the end of 2021 has been long, and that's why she is so eager to get her fourth dose booked as soon as possible. 

Natasha Williamson says she sees her second booster as a birthday present: She's getting her shot the day she turns 40.

"I think I kind of like shrieked happily, and then I immediately went online and checked my two closest pharmacies and made an appointment," the Saskatoon woman said. 

COVID-19 continues to circulate

The province says COVID-19 continues to spread in Saskatchewan and Canada, prompting the expansion of eligibility. 

Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said the protection offered by vaccines weakens over time and that boosters can help protect against serious illness, hospitalization and death.

"All COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada have been deemed safe, and our preliminary data shows that a second booster provides additional protection," Shahab said in a statement issued Friday.

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Adults can start booking their fourth shots Friday, with the appointments being available starting Monday. 

Previously, the second booster was available to people older than 50 or those living in long-term care or group homes with seniors. 

Booster expansion 'a good idea'

Another Saskatchewan resident welcoming the expansion of booster dose eligibility is Nazeem Muhajarine, a professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan

He says fall is approaching and that means a return to to school for children and young adults. 

Muhajarine believes a return from summer holidays means increased contact and a greater chance to spread COVID-19 in enclosed spaces. 

"I think the time is right now to expand the second booster availability … I think it's a good idea because of what is at stake," Muhajarine said. 

He says increasing vaccination rates along with a second booster dose will help tamp down the spread of the virus.

It will also help protect people from getting serious COVID-19 symptoms and potentially ending up in hospital. 

Muhajarine encouraged provincial officials to loudly and broadly share the news of eligibility being expanded while encouraging everyone who is able to get a second booster dose to do so as soon as they can. 

"These boosters are an insurance policy for my health and well-being. It is like an insurance policy," he said.

"We buy insurance for our home, not because we expect it to burn down to the ground but, in case it does, we are protected." 

Pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations remain available for children between six months and five years. Kids in this age group are eligible for their first two doses. 

The province says vaccination appointments are available through the SHA online or by phone, as well as Indigenous Services Canada, the Northern Inter-tribal Health Authority and at some pharmacies and walk-in clinics. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexander Quon is a reporter with CBC Saskatchewan based in Regina. After working in Atlantic Canada for four years he's happy to be back in his home province. He has previously worked with the CBC News investigative unit in Nova Scotia and Global News in Halifax. Alexander specializes in data-reporting, COVID-19 and municipal political coverage. He can be reached at: Alexander.Quon@cbc.ca.

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