Canada health body recommends Covid booster shots for all adults

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on Friday recommended booster shots of the Covid for all adults as the new Omicron variant is identified in more countries.

Ontario will lower the eligibility age for COVID-19 booster shots to 50 and up by mid-December, adding to a shifting map of booster shot eligibility in Canada. There are calls for provinces and territories to be more cohesive with each other on who gets a booster shot. The Canadian health body, that provides the government with medical and scientific on immunisations, said the third dose of the vaccine jab can be offered to those aged over 18 if they completed their full primary series of vaccination at least six months earlier, noting evidence of decreasing protection from the vaccine against Sars-CoV-2 over time

NACI “reviewed the latest data that suggest protection against infection decreases over time since completion of a primary Covid-19 vaccine series,” it said in its recommendation. And while protection against severe illness remained generally high, it could decrease over time for some people, such as older adults. In such cases, a booster dose can “enhance protection against the infection”. “Booster doses of Covid-19 mRNA vaccines can increase the immune response and are expected to offer enhanced protection against infection and severe disease and may help reduce spread of infection,” it said.

Health Canada,the department government responsible for national health policy, in November approved the mRNA jabs manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna for booster shots.

“Real-world data suggest that a booster dose of mRNA Covid-19 vaccine provides very good short-term effectiveness against Sars-CoV-2 infection. Long-term effectiveness of booster doses will continue to be monitored,” NACI added.

“Waning protection trends observed in other countries give us cause for concern,” said Canada’s chief public health officer Dr Theresa Tam. “NACI’s updated evidence-informed advice on booster doses will assist health authorities in vaccine program planning and delivery to ensure Canadians are provided with the best possible protection as the situation evolves.”

Health Canada, on Thursday, said, “If it is necessary to modify existing vaccines, Health Canada has a pathway that allows for an efficient review, while maintaining the same high standards for safety, efficacy and quality before approving.”

It added the department was working with international partners and manufacturers to “assess the potential impact” of Omicron on approved test kits, vaccines and treatments.

“Genetic variations of viruses— such as the virus that causes Covid-19― are common. That’s why Health Canada has systems in place to quickly and effectively respond to any necessary changes to health products,” it said.

“Although protection against severe disease remains high in the general population, we know that protection against infection can decrease over time. We have also seen an increase in the risk of severe disease for select groups who are vaccinated, particularly older adults,” NACI chair Dr Shelley Deeks said on Friday. “Offering booster doses will help ensure that protection against severe disease remains high, and may have an impact on spread in the community as well. It is important to note that there is no information yet on the impact of the new variant, Omicron, on the effectiveness of the vaccine.”

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