‘An important step’: Some Albertans line up for third COVID-19 vaccine shot

CALGARY — Starting Wednesday, certain groups of Albertans will be able to access a third dose a COVID-19 vaccine to boost their immunity against the highly infectious illness.

The province says approximately 60,000 Albertans who are immunocompromised and another 58,000 people living in seniors supportive living are eligible for this third dose.

Seniors living in congregate care facilities can now receive their third dose about five months after their second dose and they will receive those vaccinations at their facilities.

“We’ve learned over the last year that there are some people those perhaps that are older or have a compromised immune system that don’t quite benefit from two shots as well as the average person,” said infectious disease expert Craig Jenne. “We have learned that if we give these people a third dose we can really boost their immunity, but it’s important to remember this is only in those groups that didn’t generate a good response after the first two doses, so average burden, good enough with two doses, a few select people that their dose is an important step.”

Those with immunocompromising conditions qualify for an additional dose at least eight weeks after their second dose. They include:

  • Transplant recipients, including solid organ transplants and hematopoietic stem cell transplants;
  • Individuals with chronic kidney disease who are receiving regular dialysis;
  • Patients in active cancer treatment including chemotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapies but excluding those receiving only hormonal therapy, radiation therapy or surgery and;
  • Individuals on certain medications for autoimmune diseases, including rituximab, ocrelizumab and ofatumumab.

Added to the mix are Albertans who are travelling to foreign countries that don’t recognize their vaccinations.

The province says additional mRNA doses will be made available at least 28 days after a second dose to Albertans who are travelling to a jurisdiction that does not accept visitors who have been vaccinated with Covishield/AstraZeneca or mixed doses.

Jason Chan-Remillard, the pharmacist Pharmasave on Northmount Drive N.W., says his staff have fielded a lot of calls from people wanting to know more about the third dose.

“A lot of questions in the last few weeks of people who are going on cruises and that and were not able to go because of this,” said Chan-Remillard. “So I’m really glad that the province finally announced this that people were able to get their third dose and match up.”

Grant Admiraal was first in line for his third dose Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re traveling to the U.S. hopefully in the coming months and we’ve got a trip booked so I need one because my first dose was AstraZeneca so and so I qualified for the third dose,” he said.

“What we do know is mixed doses in many cases actually more effective than getting, for example two doses of one vaccine,” said Jenne.

“So the reality, the medicine behind it, says we don’t need to be doing this but the politics are you won’t be able to travel to some countries and we have to remember some cases travels essential, there are funerals, there are other things besides work that, you know, people have to travel for.”

To date, 77.9 per cent of Albertans born in 2009 or earlier have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 69.7 per cent have received two doses.

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