Data from the World Health Organization indicates the Omicron BA.5 variant is now responsible for the majority of COVID-19 cases around the world, with global infections on the rise again and spreading through Canada.
With some provinces reporting they have already entered a seventh wave, many Canadians are wondering when they can get their next booster shot.
Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) issued interim guidance at the end of June, saying “a fall booster dose in advance of a potential future wave of COVID-19 will be most important for older adults and other populations at increased risk of severe covid-19 disease, regardless of the number of booster doses previously received.”
While doctors are strongly recommending additional doses as protection wanes, there is debate among experts on the timing and whether to wait for newer versions of the vaccine that may be more effective against Omicron and its subvariants.
CTVNews.ca takes a look at who is currently eligible for a second booster shot or fourth dose by province and territory.
The province says invitations for the next booster are being sent to seniors aged 70 years and older, Indigenous people aged 55 years and older, and those who have underlying medical conditions or are clinically extremely vulnerable. Individuals in long-term care and assisted living have already been offered their next dose.
The province is planning on offering a fall booster dose to everyone who is age 12 and older, citing recommendations from NACI, and says it will be sending out personalized booking invitations this fall.
“We understand some people have unique needs and getting a booster dose in July or August might be best for them. This is okay, but not recommended,” the province’s website reads.
Appointments can be made through local pharmacies and health authority clinics. The province’s call centre at 1-833-838-2323 is available daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for those who may need help booking an appointment. Phone agents can not respond to questions asking for advice around the best timing, the website says.
B.C. residents can register via this site to stay informed on when it will be their turn to book an appointment.
All those who are 70 years old and above, Indigenous people aged 65,and older, and seniors who live in a congregate care setting are currently eligible for a second booster or fourth dose in Alberta.
Albertans can register and book an appointment or call Health Link at 811 if at least five months have passed since their third dose.
Residents 50 years and older can receive a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine four months after their last dose. For those who are immunocompromised, a second booster is available three months after receiving the first booster dose. For eligible First Nations and Metis communities and the Northern Service Administration District, appointments can be made through 1-833-SASKVAX (727-5829) only.
Residents aged 50 and older, Indigenous people aged 30 and above, those who live in a care home in congregate settings, and Manitobans aged 18 and older with moderate to severe immunocompromised health currently qualify for a fourth dose.
Booking can be made online or by calling 1-844-MAN-VACC (626-8222) Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to make an appointment.
Fourth dose eligibility will open up on July 14 to all adults aged 18 and up who had their third shot five months ago or longer, or was infected with COVID at least three months ago.
While the province has opened up the availability to adults, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said the second booster is “not absolutely necessary” if individuals have no underlying medical issues or face personal circumstances that would benefit from additional protection.
Healthy adults may want to wait until the fall when a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine may be available, he said. A bivalent vaccine is one that works against two different antigens, in this case, a vaccine that is also tailored against the Omicron variant.
Appointment bookings are available starting July 14 or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900. Ontarians can also book directly through local public health units that have their own booking systems, at participating pharmacies or through indigenous-led vaccination clinics.
Everyone aged 18 and older can now get a second booster dose of an mRNA vaccine in Quebec if at least three months have passed since their first booster, the province says. For those aged 12 and up who are on dialysis or whose immune systems are compromised, a second booster can be administered if at least three months have passed since receiving the initial booster shot.
The province expanded eligibility for fourth doses beginning July 12 to allow anyone who is 18 and above to receive a second booster shot if at least five months have lapsed since the first booster. Indigenous people aged 12 and up can also get their second booster if at least five months have passed since getting the first.
Residents can book a vaccine appointment online with a pharmacy or clinic, or call 1-833-437-1424 for assistance.
Residents between 50 and 69 years of age can get a second booster 168 days, or about five and a half months, after the first booster shot. However, the province’s public health recommends waiting until the fall.
Those who are aged 70 and older can get a fourth shot 120 days, or four months, after getting their third dose. Those who are 18 and older living in long-term care or congregate settings with seniors, Indigenous people who are at least 55 years old, and immune compromised individuals between 50 and 69 can also get a second booster if it has been at least 120 days since the first booster.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Prince Edward Island is offering fourth shots to everyone who is 12 and over and who received their first booster at least six months prior. The province “especially” recommends older adults and those who have compromised immune systems get a second booster.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Starting July 20, those who are aged 50 and older can receive a fourth dose. The province is currently administering fourth doses to those aged 70 years and older who received their first booster shot at least 20 weeks ago. Those who have compromised immune systems, live in a group setting such as long-term and community care homes, and Indigenous people aged 18 years and older are also eligible.
Appointments can be made online or by phone depending on health region.
On the recommendation of Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, the territory expanded its eligibility for second boosters to all those who are aged 18 or older on July 13.
To be eligible, residents must have received their first booster at least six months ago, or have tested positive for COVID-19 at least three months ago.
Everyone who is 50 or older who had their first booster shot six months ago can now get their second booster shot. Those who are at least 12 years old with serious underlying health issues can also get a second booster.
Since April, residents aged 50 years and over, and children aged five to 11 who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have been eligible for additional vaccine shots. To be eligible, those who are aged 50 and older need to have received their first booster, or third vaccine shot at least 4.5 months earlier, or about 10 weeks, while immunocompromised children need to wait at least four to eight weeks after receiving their second dose.
Iqaluit residents aged 50 years and older can call 975-4810 to book an appointment for their second booster shot.