The province’s head of the vaccine task force says there is “no medical reason” to provide third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to people at this time.
Dr. Joss Reimer said, however, that doesn’t mean things won’t change in the future.
“We know that receiving a full cycle of two doses of COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, so at this time we are not recommending or providing a third dose in Manitoba,” she said during a press conference Monday.
“This is something we’re continuing to monitor and review, particularly as new information becomes available about any clinical reasons to provide people with a third dose. And while we know people who want to travel are particularly interested in this topic, but right now there is no medical reason to provide a third dose.
“In fact, there have been some studies that show a mixed dose schedule provides better protection. As always, we will keep people updated on any new information on this topic.”
Her comments came after it was announced that several other provinces would be providing third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to those who are immunocompromised or to those who want to travel internationally.
Those provinces include Alberta, Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan.
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The latest provinces to join the third dose bandwagon are Alberta and Quebec, which made their announcements Monday.In Alberta, the third doses will be offered beginning Wednesday, Alberta Health said, saying that receiving a third dose of vaccine will boost immunity levels and improve protection for all seniors living in congregate care facilities and those who have compromised immune systems.
“The data shows that additional doses will offer stronger protection for immunocompromised individuals and older Albertans living in supportive living facilities,” Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Monday.
Ontario was the first province to offer COVID-19 booster shots to high-risk people, making the change in the middle of August.
The announcement came days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized a booster dose for people with compromised immune systems on Thursday.
There are also reports that U.S. experts will recommend COVID-19 vaccine boosters for all Americans, regardless of age, eight months after they received their second dose of the shot.
But experts are still divided over the broad use of COVID-19 vaccine boosters among those without underlying problems as the benefits remain undetermined.
“I certainly don’t think we need to mobilize the entire community to get a third dose,” said Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious disease specialist and a medical microbiologist at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).
Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at Sinai Health and University Health Network hospitals in Toronto, said the issue of a third dose treaded on “complicated territory,” as many countries were still trying to access limited supplies to vaccinate their population with a first and second dose.
Currently, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is not recommending a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines but is looking at data on the potential need or benefit of an additional dose in order to mount a reasonable immune response that is more comparable to the general population.
—With files from Caley Ramsay and Saba Aziz