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Do I need a booster if I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine? – Toronto Star

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Do I need a booster if I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

Probably at some point, but health officials still are collecting the data needed to decide.

With boosters being planned in the U.S. as early as the fall for those who got the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, recipients of the single-dose J&J jab might be wondering just how well their protection is holding up.

All the vaccines used in the U.S. — including the J&J vaccine — still are doing their job of preventing hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.

“I don’t think there’s any signal that the J&J vaccine is failing at its primary task,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Despite continued protection against severe disease, U.S. officials are planning to offer Pfizer and Moderna boosters eight months after the second shot based on evidence that effectiveness against infection wanes over time. Adding to the decision, the vaccines don’t appear quite as strong against the highly contagious delta variant as they were against earlier versions of the virus.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said boosters “will likely be needed” for the J&J vaccine. Authorities expect more data to decide in the coming weeks.

That’s in part because the J&J rollout didn’t start until March, several months after Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations began. The J&J shot is made differently. And there’s more data about how the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines fare against delta because they’re more widely used in countries where the variant struck before its U.S. surge.

There is some real-world data showing J&J’s shot holds up against the delta variant. A huge study of health workers in South Africa showed the vaccine remains highly effective against hospitalizations and death from the variant. And the vast majority of so-called “breakthrough“ infections in vaccinated people were mild.

J&J has also presented lab data on virus-fighting antibodies that indicates its vaccine protects against the delta variant for eight months and counting. Another small lab study has raised questions about whether a two-dose approach would work better, an option J&J is studying.

A separate issue is whether people with severely weakened immune systems should get extra shots as part of their original vaccinations, since they don’t respond as well to any vaccines. The government now recommends a third shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for organ transplant recipients and others in this group. But it’s still collecting data before making a similar recommendation for another dose of the J&J vaccine.

___

The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org. Read more here:

What should I know about the delta variant?

Should vaccinated people mask up with COVID-19 cases rising?

Can I get ‘long COVID’ if I’m infected after vaccination?

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BC College of Pharmacists investigate reuse of syringes for COVID-19 – BC News – Castanet.net

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The Fraser Health Authority has confirmed that syringes were reused for COVID-19 vaccines at a B.C. pharmacy.

CTV News Vancouver is reporting that Fraser Health confirmed the information on Tuesday via email that – “the plastic tube which holds the vaccine solution, not the needles” – were reused.

Fraser Health did not indicate where in the region the pharmacy is located in. The Fraser Health Authority stretches from Burnaby to Boston Bar.

Fraser Health indicated the pharmacy was part of a provincial pilot program that was testing the ability of pharmacies to use a specific booking system. The location was suspended from the program once it the issue came to light.

Fraser health indicates the B.C. College of Pharmacists is investigating the but they confirmed the pharmacy is no longer giving out vaccines.

-with files from CTV News Vancouver

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COVID-19 vaccine boosters recommended for long-term care residents, national advisory committee says – CBC.ca

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Canadian seniors living in long-term care homes and other congregate-care settings should get COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, Canada’s vaccine advisory body recommends.   

Residents of such sites, including retirement homes and assisted-living facilities “are at increased risk for COVID-19 infection because of their daily interactions with other residents and staff,” said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) in updated guidance released online on Tuesday. 

“They are also at increased risk for severe disease because of their age and underlying medical conditions.”

The amount of time that has passed since residents received their initial vaccinations is a factor in the recommendation —  given that older adults may “have a less durable response to vaccines and/or past infection compared to younger adults.” 

“Older Canadians residing in congregate living settings were prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine when the vaccines were first authorized; therefore, many completed their COVID-19 vaccination series early in the vaccine roll-out, leaving more time for waning should it occur,” NACI said. 

Many long-term care residents had their initial COVID-19 shots spaced out over shorter intervals based on the manufacturers’ guidance — 21 days between doses for Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) and 28 days for Moderna (Spikevax).

Current evidence now suggests that longer intervals between doses result in higher immune responses, NACI said, and therefore the original schedule may have contributed to “more rapid waning of protection, including against variants of concern.”

In its guidance, NACI noted that its booster shot recommendation for residents of long-term care homes is not the same as recommending a third dose as part of the initial vaccination schedule. 

“The intent of a booster dose is to restore protection that may have waned over time in individuals who responded adequately to a primary vaccine series,” the advisory committee said. 

That’s different than the recommendation NACI issued just over two weeks ago for moderately to severely immunocompromised Canadians. People who are immunocompromised should receive three doses of COVID-19 vaccine as part of the standard immunization schedule, NACI said, because they may not mount an adequate immune response to two doses in the first place.

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North Bay–Parry Sound's COVID-19 vaccination rates rank near bottom-third in Ontario – BayToday.ca

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The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is trailing the majority of the 33 other districts in Ontario when it comes to vaccination rates but officials are confident the mobile vaccination clinics held on a retrofitted transit bus can boost those numbers toward the 90 per cent goal.

According to COVaxON, the province’s vaccination reporting system, 78 per cent of eligible North Bay–Parry Sound residents age 12 and older have had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s tied for 23rd out of 34 health units in Ontario.

The Health Unit also reports 84 per cent of eligible residents 12 and older in the district have received at least one dose, tied for 25th of 34 health units.

The recent introduction of the proof of vaccination program for Ontarians to gain entry to non-essential settings such as restaurants, fitness clubs, and cinemas is acknowledged by health officials as a means to encourage those who are not fully vaccinated to do so.

There was an uptick in vaccinations in the weeks following the announcement of the vaccine certificate program in Ontario. And, a boost in vaccinations followed locally, as well, in mid-September, as the Health Unit reported an increase, particularly among those aged 29 and younger. The Health Unit reported then a 128 per cent increase in first doses week over week. 

See also: Chirico impressed with new wave of vaccinations but still more work to do

The goal locally and province-wide is to have 90 per cent of the population vaccinated with first and second doses. As of Monday, that leaves 6,646 first and 14,680 second shots required. The Health Unit’s dashboard reports 692 doses administered over the weekend. It should be noted hundreds of third doses have been administered to eligible segments of the population over the past two weeks.

In North Bay–Parry Sound, the 30-39, 18-29 and 12-17 age groups all sit at less than two-thirds fully vaccinated, although the 12-17 category was not eligible for the vaccine for months following the initial local roll-out.

The Health Unit reports since June 1, 10 per cent of local positive cases have been detected in fully vaccinated people. Ontario reports 86 per cent of COVID-19 patients in ICUs are unvaccinated, while 72 per cent in hospitals (but not the ICU) are unvaccinated.

The Health Unit has consistently advocated for more people to roll up their sleeves and has gone to great lengths to achieve that goal by providing clinics in long-term care and retirement communities, mass immunization opportunities at Memorial Gardens, clinics focused on members of the vulnerable population, and now the mobile vaccination clinics that visit many of the underserved towns in the district.

See: How better conversations can help reduce vaccine hesitancy for COVID-19 and other shots

Andrea McLellan, Director of COVID-19 Immunization Strategy, previously spoke about possible reasons for vaccine hesitancy.

“It may be a lack of confidence in immunizations overall, it may be a personal choice they are making at this time and waiting to receive further information,” she said, noting there are excellent resources out there for those who are hesitant. “We are providing as much information to the public as we can — our website holds a wealth of information, the Ontario.ca website has a lot of information about the vaccine, as does Public Health Ontario.”

“Some people need a familiar health care provider to really reassure them that the vaccine is right for them,” Dr. Carol Zimbalatti added, encouraging people to reach out to their trusted health care providers for guidance. “Definitely, primary care offices have the information available to counsel their patients.”

The Health Unit will continue to roll out the vaccine through mobile clinics. McLellan says some of the feedback from the public indicated people who weren’t thinking of getting their shot did so thanks to the convenience of the bus set-up.

“We believe the mobile bus has been exceptionally successful,” McLellan said last week. “We’ve done over 300 at a couple of clinics, 150-plus at other clinics, 50 to 60 in smaller communities. The bus has been helpful in getting our numbers up. A lot of people are getting their first doses. And, we’ve accommodated a lot of people eligible for their third doses.”

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