Will 'fully vaccinated' eventually mean 3 COVID-19 shots, not 2, in B.C.? Here's what Dr. Henry said this time
It's a question that's been asked since the early days of the booster shot rollout: eventually, will everyone in B.C. need three doses instead of two to be considered fully vaccinated?
And it's been answered previously by the provincial health officer: no.
On Tuesday, she was asked again, and this time, she replied, "I have no plans at the moment for changing that."
It's not a "yes" or even a "maybe," but it's less definitive than the answer given back in October about whether a third dose would be needed to access non-essential businesses currently requiring the provincial proof-of-immunization card.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said the shot is about giving longer-lasting protection "for whatever comes next, because something is going to come next. We're going to have to be living with some version of SARS-CoV-2 for the foreseeable future."
Henry said she expects and hopes that whatever that looks like will be less severe and more manageable, but said that part of that management will be booster doses, especially through next year.
"In terms of the vaccine card and what we consider fully vaccinated, we are seeing that two doses - that primary series – right now is still giving really strong protection for people against severe illness and hospitalization," Henry said.
So for now at least, she said, she isn't planning for that third dose to be required to be considered fully vaccinated, but she elaborated a bit on what factors might change her mind.
"One of the things that is important in determining what we do in terms of the vaccine card and where people are able to access things is the equity of availability of the vaccine, and not everybody yet has reached that point where they can have a booster dose," she said.
"So it would not be fair to put in restrictions when people are not able to meet the criteria for them yet."
Henry didn't say whether the situation may change once everyone has had that opportunity, but her answer suggested it's a possibility.
She added that she still believes it won't be necessary to have the vaccine card "forever," but called it an important tool for now.
"I don't expect to be adding a third dose or a booster dose to the 'fully vaccinated' (definition) in terms of things like the vaccine card right now."
Henry was asked about the definition during a news conference in which she announced updates to restrictions in the province prompted by the Omicron wave of COVID-19.
She also spoke about her plans for the use in B.C. of Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral treatment, which was just approved by Health Canada.
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