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EXPLAINER: What do we know about booster shots for COVID-19? – Delta-Optimist

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U.S. health officials may soon recommend COVID-19 booster shots for fully vaccinated Americans. A look at what we know about boosters and how they could help fight the coronavirus:

WHY MIGHT WE NEED BOOSTERS?

It’s common for protection from vaccines to decrease over time. A tetanus booster, for example, is recommended every 10 years.

Researchers and health officials have been monitoring the real-world performance of the COVID-19 vaccines to see how long protection lasts among vaccinated people. The vaccines authorized in the U.S. continue to offer very strong protection against severe disease and death.

But laboratory blood tests have suggested that antibodies — one of the immune system’s layers of protection — can wane over time. That doesn’t mean protection disappears, but it could mean protection is not as strong or that it could take longer for the body to fight back against an infection.

The delta variant has complicated the question of when to give boosters because it is so much more contagious and much of the data gathered about vaccine performance is from before the delta variant was widely circulating. Delta is taking off at the same time that vaccine immunity might also be waning for the first people vaccinated.

Israel is offering a booster to people over 50 who were vaccinated more than five months ago. France and Germany plan to offer boosters to some people in the fall. The European Medicines Agency said it too is reviewing data to see if booster shots are needed.

WHEN WOULD THEY BE GIVEN?

It depends on when you got your initial shots. One possibility is that health officials will recommend people get a booster roughly eight months after getting their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Officials are continuing to collect information about the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was authorized for use in the U.S. in late February, to determine when to recommend boosters.

WHO WOULD GET THEM?

The first people vaccinated in the United States would likely be first in line for boosters too. That means health care workers, nursing home residents and other older Americans, who were the first to be vaccinated once the shots were authorized last December.

BOOSTER? THIRD SHOT? WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Transplant recipients and other people with weakened immune systems may not have gotten enough protection from vaccines to begin with. They can now receive a third dose at least 28 days after their second shot as part of their initial series of shots needed for them to be fully vaccinated. For those with normal immune systems, boosters are given much later after full vaccination — not to establish protection, but to rev it up again.

WHAT QUESTIONS REMAIN?

Still unknown is whether people should get the same type of shot they got when first vaccinated. And the nation’s top health advisers will be looking for evidence about the safety of boosters and how well they protect against infection and severe disease.

Global access to vaccines is also important to stem the pandemic and prevent the emergence of new variants. Booster shots could crimp already tight global vaccine supplies.

WHAT ABOUT THE UNVACCINATED?

Dr. Melanie Swift, who has been leading the vaccination program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, says getting more shots into people who haven’t yet been vaccinated at all is “our best tool, not only to prevent hospitalization and mortality from the delta variant, but to stop transmission.” Every infection, she says, “gives the virus more chances to mutate into who knows what the next variant could be.”

“People who took the vaccine the first time are likely to line up and get their booster,” Swift says. “But it’s not going to achieve our goals overall if all their unvaccinated neighbors are not vaccinated.”

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Carla K. Johnson, The Associated Press


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Coronavirus cases in Quebec rise by 821 with three new deaths and two more hospitalizations – CTV News Montreal

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MONTREAL —
Quebec reported Saturday that 821 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the province, bringing the overall number of infections to 402,283.

Of the new infections, 609 people were unvaccinated when they received their positive result, 49 received one dose of vaccine more than two weeks prior, and 163 were double-vaxxed more than a week before the test. 

Hospitalizations rose by two bringing the total number of people receiving care in the province’s hospitals to 264. The ministry reports that 36 people checked in for care, and 34 were discharged. Of the 36, 28 were unvaccinated, two received one vaccine dose more than 14 days prior and six got both jabs more than a week before entering the hospital. 

There are 89 people in intensive care wards, which is six fewer than on Friday.

Three more people have died due to COVID-19, bringing that total to 11,321 since March 2020.

There are 508 active outbreaks in the province.

Quebec’s vaccination rate remains at 88 per cent for one dose of the eligible population and 82 per cent for both doses. 

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Spike in COVID-19 cases is pushing New Brunswick's health-care system to the limit – CTV News Atlantic

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MONCTON, N.B. —
New Brunswick’s jump in COVID-19 cases has overloaded the health-care system this week.

The Horizon Health Network is now looking to hire more staff across the province to help with the growing demand for testing and vaccinations.

The health network has seen an increased demand in testing as COVID-19 cases have soared over the last month.

“Two weeks ago, if you wanted a test, you could walk in or call and get it at almost anytime you wanted,” said Dr. Jeff Steeves with New Brunswick’s Medical Society.

But now, assessment centres are seeing long line ups and delays in testing.

Steeves wants people to get the jab and practice caution during this time to prevent overloading the system even more.

“Remember, we were running short even before COVID, so we’re trying to maintain that,” Steeves said. “Therefore, we can’t divert the staff like we did before, hence the call for new staff.”

Horizon Health’s vice-president said in a statement Friday that they are currently looking to recruit staff at vaccination clinics, assessment centres and school clinics in Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton.

“Given the recent rise in COVID activity in New Brunswick, and the increased demand for these services, we are hoping to replenish our pool of available clinicians and administrative support staff as we ramp up activity at these locations,” said Jean Daigle.

Since the province announced proof of vaccination requirements this week, public health has reported a significant jump in vaccination appointments.

On Wednesday, 1,700 appointments were booked, while yesterday there were 1,929.

Health officials say prior to Wednesday’s number, the recent average for vaccinations was 600 bookings per day. On Thursday, 600 additional vaccines had to be delivered to a clinic in Moncton.

“Things have picked up dramatically,” said Fredericton pharmacist Alistair Bursary, who says they’ve been busy taking calls from people looking to get their first or second dose.

“So, whereas we were doing perhaps 10 patients a day on average now we are probably going to hit 40-50 just at our pharmacy alone,” Bursary said.

While the demand for services continue to climb, those working on the frontlines hope to get the help they need sooner rather than later.

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Quebec reports 821 COVID-19 cases, three deaths – Winnipeg Free Press

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People line up at a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

MONTREAL – Quebec reported 821 new COVID-19 cases and three further deaths in its latest data on Saturday, as authorities expanded plans to use rapid tests in elementary schools to more regions of the province.

Health officials said hospitalizations increased by two to 264, while the number of patients in intensive care dropped by six to 89.

The province said about 80 per cent of new infections involve people who were not adequately vaccinated.

Quebec administered 19,662 vaccine doses on Friday and officials said 88 per cent of Quebecers aged 12 and older have received a first dose while 82 per cent have gotten both shots.

Health Minister Christian Dubé said in a tweet more than 1,000 of those doses went to health-care workers, with the province remaining firm on a plan to have all sector employees adequately vaccinated Oct. 15 or face reassignment or suspension without pay.

“It’s never too late to get the vaccine, it’s the best way to protect yourself and others,” Dubé wrote on Saturday.

The province conducted more than 32,000 tests on Friday and the positivity rate is 2.4 per cent.

Late Friday, Quebec’s Health Department said rapid testing in elementary schools will now extend to several administrative regions of the province where masking in classrooms is already mandatory.

In a statement, officials said the deployment will take a few weeks and include nearly 1,600 schools.

The provincial government came under criticism from opposition parties and school administrators on the rollout of the testing program.

The province appointed Daniel Paré, head of the vaccination campaign, to co-ordinate the deployment.

The Health Department said schools will have the tests and PPE needed to use the tests, reserved for students who develop COVID-19 symptoms during the day and training and protocols are being set up.

“They are a complementary tool to quickly detect cases and further protect students and school staff and ensure that young people continue to receive their education at school,” the department said.

The tests, which provide a result in 15 minutes, have been used in four neighbourhoods in Montreal and Laval since Monday.

Schools are expected to begin using the tests widely by the end of the month, when training of staff to use the tests is complete.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2021.

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