B.C. prepared to give COVID-19 booster shots when recommended by public health: Dix

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The province is prepared to give out COVID-19 booster shots should they be required and recommended by public health, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday.

He said the COVID-19 booster shot is something health officials have been "preparing now for some time" both within and beyond the long-term care sector, and for those who are immunocompromised.

"So, we're looking at that," he told a news conference.

More than 76 per cent of those eligible are fully vaccinated in B.C., while about 84 per cent have received their first dose of the COVID-19 shot, the government said in a news release.

The province recorded 1,853 new cases of COVID-19 over the three-day period that began Friday. The province said Monday there were 5,918 active cases across B.C., with Interior Health reporting the highest number of cases at 707.

That three-day period also saw seven COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 1,814.

Fraser Health said it has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at the Chilliwack General Hospital after evidence of transmission in a medicine unit. Three patients have tested positive in the outbreak that's limited to one unit, which has been temporarily closed to new admissions, the health authority said.

The emergency department remains open and no other areas have been affected at the hospital, where enhanced cleaning and contact tracing are in place, it said.

The Northern Health authority also announced a new COVID-19 outbreak at the in-patient unit of the Fort St. John Hospital over the weekend. Three patients and two staff have tested positive for the illness and infection control measures are in place, including enhanced monitoring for symptoms, it said.

An outbreak continued at White Rock's Peace Arch Hospital, along with 13 outbreaks in assisted-living and long-term care homes when the province last issued an update on the virus.

Last week, Health Canada said in a statement that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization continues to review evidence on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines booster shots in those who are immunosuppressed. The committee was expected to update its recommendations in the coming weeks, it said.

"Current data to date shows most people have good immunity that is sustained for at least six months after receiving their second dose, however it is not yet clear how long immunity lasts nor known whether and when additional shots are required to sustain immunity for Canadians."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 30, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Health Minister Adrian Dix said COVID-19 booster shots would be given at the direction of Health Canada. In fact, he said public health.

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