As Quebec’s most vulnerable get 4th dose, expert says everyone else should at least have 3rd

After 75-year-old Robert Lemieux battled cancer, he and his wife aren’t taking any chances.  He got his fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.

“I’m here because I believe in having as many vaccines as possible,” he said with a laugh. “I just don’t want to catch it.”

The couple visited a new vaccination clinic on de Maisonneuve Boulevard East, near the Berri-UQAM Metro station in Montreal, which was set up this week to replace the one that was long located at the Palais des congrès downtown.

Quebec residents 70 and older are now eligible for another booster shot, and next week it will be open to those 60 and up. The province is working to get a head start on issuing the fourth shot to fend off the sixth wave.

“The vaccination strategy has evolved a lot,” said Jean Nicolas Aubé, a spokesperson for the local health authority, CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal.

“At first we were mass vaccinating, but now we try to reach communities — to be closer to them.”

The idea, he explained, is to vaccinate people where they live.

“On an average, since we opened here, we get around 150 people a day getting their shot,” Aubé said.

Epidemiologist says everyone else needs booster

While it’s good news that many people at high risk of developing complications from COVID-19 are getting the fourth dose, it’s crucial that everybody else at least get their third, said Dr. Christopher Labos,  an epidemiologist and cardiologist.

Right now only 53 percent of Quebecers five and up have had a booster, he said.

“We’ve seen that with every new variant that emerges, vaccine efficacy does dip a little bit with a third dose,” said Labos.

“We did see that the efficacy against Omicron does go back up by a fairly considerable margin.”

Jean Nicolas Aubé, a spokesperson for the local health authority, says about 150 people are getting boosters at a new clinic near Berri-UQAM Metro. (CBC)

Labos said more effort should be made to remind people who got the virus over the holidays to get their shot.

When Quebec’s interim public health director, Dr. Luc Boileau, announced on March 23 the plan to offer a second round of booster shots, he said it was to fight back against yet another COVID-19 surge.

And speaking alongside Boileau, Marie-France Raynault, a senior strategic medical advisor with the ministry, said booster shots have been shown to reduce transmission of COVID-19, she said.

A minimum interval of three months should be observed between the first and second booster dose, Quebec Public Health says.

Here in Canada, there’s a patchwork approach among the provinces when it comes to the fourth dose.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization is now strongly recommending the “rapid deployment” of second COVID-19 booster shots for seniors aged 80 and up in the community and residents of long-term care and other congregate settings.

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