Quebec travellers can get a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine if they are travelling to a destination that requires it, the provincial government says.
The health department announced Saturday that third doses of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are available but people who wish to get an additional shot should seek advice and weigh the associated risks.
“This measure is exceptional and the person should be properly counselled to be informed of the potential risks associated with this additional dose, compared to the benefits of the planned trip,” the statement from the health department reads.
The Quebec government says fully vaccinated residents who have received both doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can receive a third dose of an mRNA vaccine.
Quebec says it is offering the extra shot because some countries don’t recognize Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made at the Serum Institute of India, and Canadians who have received it could find themselves barred from entry.
Some countries are also currently mulling the recommendation and possible requirement of a third vaccine dose, including France, Britain and Finland.
A spokesman for the Health Department said Monday a third dose doesn’t necessarily provide more protection compared with two doses, adding that the safety of receiving two shots of AstraZeneca mixed with an mRNA vaccine is still unclear.
Officials say the two vaccine doses that the provincial government currently recommends for Quebecers provides “adequate protection.”
There is, however, no international consensus on how many vaccine doses are necessary to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus and its variants.
Virologist Benoit Barbeau describes Quebec’s new policy as morally concerning. He told Global News the third dose won’t increase immunity, only travel eligibility.
According to him, using extra doses for that purpose is not right when other countries are still waiting to vaccinate their population. Barbeau said countries shouldn’t start being picky about which vaccines they prefer.
People that wish to get a third dose can get it at any of Quebec’s walk-in vaccination centres or they can make an appointment on the Clic Santé website.
As of last Thursday, 83 per cent of Quebecers over the age of 12 had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 59.8 per cent were fully vaccinated with two doses, according to Quebec’s public health institute.
–with files from the Canadian Press