Choice is to boost now or wait
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/09/2022 (197 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Faced with the choice to get the first COVID-19 booster shot available or wait their turn for a new, Omicron-targeted vaccine, some Manitobans are raring to recharge their immunity, while others say they’ve had their share of needles.
Hundreds of thousands of Manitobans will become eligible for a fourth dose of the vaccine as of Sept. 12. For many, the booster will come amid waning immunity as the seasons change and people head back indoors.
“There’s no question we’ll get the first one that’s available,” teacher and Winnipeg School Division trustee candidate Luanne Karn said. “We’re not waiting for something that we don’t know when it’s going to be available.”
Provincial public health officials recommend Manitobans wait to get boosted until they are eligible for the new, bivalent vaccine, which offers enhanced protection against the Omicron mutation and its subvariants.
However, it could take up to eight weeks before Manitoba has enough supply of the newly approved vaccine to give a dose to every adult.
More than 105,000 doses scheduled to arrive this week and next are being reserved for those at highest risk, including adults 65 and older, Indigenous people 18 and older, adults with immunocompromising conditions, adult health-care workers and residents of congregate living facilities.
While her family has considered public health’s recommendation, Karn said they will not delay vaccination any longer.
“We are in very high-risk settings,” she said. “We don’t wait a day or a week, and we feel that’s important because we know that COVID has spread through families, children, community, daycares and schools and it’s still spreading. So every day counts.”
It has been frustrating to see her loved ones denied the choice to receive a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine under current public health eligibility criteria, Karn said. When the provincial government allows all Manitobans ages 12 and up to receive a fourth dose Monday, Karn said she and her partner will be at the front of the line.
The adult educator and parent, who advocates for strengthened public health measures in schools with the group Safe September Manitoba, received her second booster shot in July, following a bout of COVID-19. Her partner, who comes into contact with hundreds of people daily for work, could not receive the same booster shot owing to her age.
“It’s the start of the school year and the fall. We want those three to four weeks of immunity built up as quickly as possible,” she said.
“In most cases, for individuals at lower risk, physicians will likely recommend waiting a few weeks for the new booster to ensure you get the best possible protection for the likely increase in COVID spread in Manitoba coming later this fall and winter.”–Dr. Candace Bradshaw
People who are not yet eligible for the bivalent vaccine should speak with their family physician about the benefits and risks of waiting a few weeks for access to the shot tailored for Omicron, Doctors Manitoba president Dr. Candace Bradshaw said.
“While doctors would like to be able to offer the booster to all eligible Manitobans on day one, we understand the need to prioritize those individuals most at risk based on the limited vaccine supply expected in the first couple of weeks of September,” Bradshaw said.
“In most cases, for individuals at lower risk, physicians will likely recommend waiting a few weeks for the new booster to ensure you get the best possible protection for the likely increase in COVID spread in Manitoba coming later this fall and winter.”
Despite the push for fourth doses and a fall booster shot, Manitoba is lagging behind other provinces when it comes to third doses (or first booster shots). Just 55.7 per cent of adults had received a booster as of Aug. 27.
A handful of people the Free Press spoke to at The Forks on Tuesday afternoon expressed a lack of interest in voluntarily rolling up their sleeves for a third or fourth time.
“If we have to have it because we need it for travel, then we’ll go get it no problem,” said Tracy Joyce, who was taking in the afternoon with out-of-town family members at the downtown Winnipeg tourist destination. “If people want to have it, they want to have four, five, six or seven, go for it. But we’ll do it if we have to.”
“I don’t want another,” said Carol, who was out for ice cream with a friend and provided only her first name. The Manitoba government needs to make more information about the newest COVID-19 vaccine available before she will decide to get boosted a second time, she added.
“I listen to both sides and I’m in the middle. I don’t know what to do.”–Carol
“I listen to both sides and I’m in the middle. I don’t know what to do.”
Her friend, who was hit hard by COVID-19 last month, said she “almost wished” she had been boosted earlier.
“I don’t know if I’ve had it, if it will make a difference or if it’s too late,” said the friend, who declined to provide her name. “I’m thinking I would because for a few days there, I felt like I was run over by a truck.”
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.