B.C. launches spring COVID-19 booster program, targeting vulnerable and unvaccinated

VICTORIA — British Columbia is rolling out another round of COVID-19 vaccination boosters, with invitations starting to go out Monday.

Ministry of Health says people who haven’t received a booster against the XBB. 1.5 Omicron variant of COVID-19 will be among those offered the free shot.

Others who will be invited include adults aged 65 and older, Indigenous adults 55 and over, residents of long-term care homes and assisted-living facilities, and anyone older than six months who is “clinically extremely vulnerable.”

The ministry says in a statement that although the spring program is focused on those most at risk or those who haven’t received an updated vaccine, anyone who wants a booster can book an appointment or walk into a pharmacy where the shots are available.

It says about 3.9 million people in B.C. have yet to receive the XBB. 1.5 vaccine.

The vaccines will be offered at pharmacies, regional health authority clinics, primary care offices and community health centres.

The statement says the peak of the respiratory illness season has passed, but COVID-19 continues to spread at lower levels in the community.

It says protection provided by COVID-19 vaccines decreases over time, particularly for older people, and a spring booster will ensure protection.

The ministry says the 2023-24 respiratory illness immunization campaign for the general population, launched on Oct. 10, saw almost 1.5 million shots of COVID-19 vaccine administered and 1.56 million doses of influenza vaccines.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April. 8, 2024. 

The Canadian Press