‘We will never be fully vaccinated against COVID’: Canadians may be required to get booster shot every 9 months
As masks, travel restrictions, and COVID testing fade into the past, one aspect of the pandemic may stick around for quite some time: vaccines.
Canadian Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Canadians may soon be required to get a booster shot every nine months for the foreseeable future to protect against new variants of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Speaking to reporters, Duclos said Canadians who got a shot last summer are no longer “up to date,” and should now roll up their sleeves for another booster.
“The virus evolves and Omicron made us aware we will never be fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” Duclos continued, adding that as our immunity evolves, “we have to maintain our vaccinations up to date.”
According to local media Toronto Sun, when Duclos was asked if there would be a return of a vaccine mandate for boosters in the fall, he didn’t dismiss the idea, replying, “We must continue to fight against COVID.”
“We want to be prepared for next fall, and that requires an up-to-date vaccination which is based on the nine months,” he added.
Duclos’ message was mostly directed at the Canadians who have yet to receive their very first booster. While 81% of Canada’s population has had two shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, only around 49% had a third dose as of June 19, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The health agency recommended in a June 29 report that boosters be offered to all people between the ages of 12 and 64, regardless of the number of booster doses they have previously received.
“Cases of COVID-19, including associated hospitalizations and deaths, are currently declining in Canada. However, the likelihood, timing, and severity of a future wave of COVID-19 is uncertain,” the health agency said in a release.
Canada’s chief public health officer Theresa Tam said that the number of COVID-19 cases in Canada is currently stable, but officials are bracing for a resurgence in late summer and early fall as a wave of immune-evasive variants like the BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Omicron sweep the country just before respiratory virus season arrives.
In the U.S., the Center for Disease Control advises all people above the age of 5 to get their first booster shot, according to the agency’s booster guidance website, but has so far not advised a fourth shot for people below the age of 50 unless they are immunocompromised.
The last guidance came in May 2022, and said that “a second booster may be more important in the fall of 2022, or if a new vaccine for a future COVID-19 variant becomes available.”
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