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B.C. spring COVID-19 booster program set to start in April

Click to play video: 'B.C. offers spring COVID-19 boosters to high-risk groups'
B.C. offers spring COVID-19 boosters to high-risk groups
WATCH: B.C. health officials are releasing plans for the spring COVID-19 booster program. Those in high-risk groups will have the opportunity to receive another booster starting in April, but the majority of British Columbians will not. Richard Zussman has more. – Mar 10, 2023

British Columbians over the age of 60 who have not tested positive for COVID-19 are being encouraged to get another booster shot this spring.

In a slight deviation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Friday suggested those with no natural immunity get the booster.

The booster program, starting in April, will also include those 80 years of age and older, those considered clinically extremely vulnerable, and those living in long-term care.

“This spring program is in response to what we are seeing right now with a relatively high level of circulation,” Henry told a news conference.

“As we go in to the fall, we will be in a similar situation.”

The program will not include the general population, including those who work in health-care settings.

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Click to play video: 'Dr. Bonnie Henry announces plan to offer spring COVID-19 booster to vulnerable residents'
Dr. Bonnie Henry announces plan to offer spring COVID-19 booster to vulnerable residents

Wastewater data and other information shows additional boosters do not make a huge difference for those with natural immunity and who are under the age of 80, Henry said.

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“For everyone else not in the category, our data shows that having had a primary series and a booster continues to provide protection,” she said.

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“We know giving an additional boosters doesn’t add a whole lot of protection. When we look at our data, there is a little bit of a step up for those in their 60s.”

The province also announced that public-service employees will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 as of April 3.

Click to play video: 'Dr. Bonnie Henry’s emotional response to B.C.’s three years of COVID-19'
Dr. Bonnie Henry’s emotional response to B.C.’s three years of COVID-19

The decision to rescind the policy was made based on the high level of vaccination among public-service employees and the current state of the pandemic, the government said. More than 98 per cent of employees have already met the requirement.

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The mandates will remain in place for those working in front-line health-care settings.

The move also means a small number of employees on administrative leave due to non-compliance will get the opportunity to return to the workplace.

“Vaccine mandates remain in highest-risk settings where the most vulnerable live and are cared for,” the health ministry said in a statement.

“This includes facilities in the health-care system.”

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