Canada should prepare for “the rapid deployment” of a second COVID-19 booster program over the coming weeks prioritizing adults 80 and over and residents of long-term care or other congregate settings, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said Tuesday.
The advisory body also advised that the aim be to provide a second booster dose six months after the previous booster dose.
“While the greatest benefit is expected in adults 80 years of age and older, jurisdictions may also consider offering a second COVID-19 booster dose to adults 70-79 years of age living in the community,” NACI said in its updated guidance.
NACI previously recommended that people who are “moderately to severely immunocompromised” receive a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine six months after getting their third shot.
The new recommendation comes as public health indicators tick upwards across Canada, with health experts warning that a sixth wave of the pandemic has begun.
Last week, U.S. regulators approved a fourth dose for Americans 50 and older if it’s been at least four months since their last vaccination.
The Food and Drug Administration gave the measure the green light on Tuesday, and the Centers for Disease Control later recommended the extra shot as an option but stopped short of urging that those eligible rush to make an appointment.
“Broad deployment of a second booster dose to the general population is not necessary at this time to support the core program goal of preventing severe disease,” NACI vice-chair Dr. Robyn Harrison said in a statement Tuesday.
NACI said is currently reviewing existing first booster recommendations for adults under 50 and adolescents, and will release updated guidance “in the coming weeks.”
— with files from The Canadian Press