Manitobans 70 and up and all First Nations, Métis and Inuit people aged 18 and over are now eligible for a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The third dose should be given at least six months after the last dose received, the county health authorities said Wednesday.
The booster is available to all native adults living on or off the reserve, and to all Manitobans 70 and up, no matter where they live, Dr. Joss Reimer, the medical director of the province’s vaccine implementation task force.
The third shots are offered to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases that occur in people who are fully immunized but who may be at risk as immunity is reduced over time.
“We expect to see increases in breakthrough cases compared to what we could have had months ago, just because of the declining immunity, which is why we recommend the boosters to [those groups]”Reimer said at an online news conference on Tuesday.
“We will continue to monitor closely, and if we see other trends that are unexpected, we can always change our recommendations.”
Third doses are available at many medical clinics, pharmacies, urban sites and other vaccine clinics throughout the province.
Public health officials recommend that people get an mRNA vaccine for their third dose – Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna – and when possible, this dose should be the same as the previous one.
Both mRNA vaccines are safe to receive.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization on Friday advised that adults over 80 “should” be offered a booster injection because they are among the population “with the highest risk of declining protection after their primary series and with the highest risk of severe COVID-19 disease. . “
However, adults 70 and older “may” be offered a booster shot because they “may have an increased risk of lower protection over time since vaccination. [or] increased risk of serious illness. “
Indigenous communities in danger
First Nations people living on reserve were previously eligible for the booster shot, but the province expanded it on Wednesday to include Métis and Inuit people, both on and off reserve.
It is in response to health inequalities between indigenous and non-indigenous people living in Manitoba, said Dr. Marcia Anderson, Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Coordination Team.
“Across Canada, we know that the number of active COVID-19 cases began to rise in First Nations communities again in August and was 4.2 times higher than the general population as of October 12,” she said during online news conference.
“Existing gaps in health experienced by the people of First Nations, Inuit and Métis also result in higher rates of serious outcomes.”
The proportion of indigenous peoples with at least one underlying health condition associated with severe COVID-19 outcomes is higher than for other Canadians, Anderson said.
As of Wednesday, 87 percent of eligible Manitobans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 83.9 percent have had both.
More than 2,000 doses are scheduled to be given on Wednesday.
The province has granted medical exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine to only 18 people as of Friday, Reimer said.